Hear the Cicadas official soundtrack (plus Part 1 annotation)

Several readers have emailed me asking for a playlist for Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story, a book that has music at the core of its throbbing heart. It was the world’s easiest request, because of course I’ve been thinking about the soundtrack since I started writing the book in 2021.

This is the “official” version, the one most faithful to the timeline, which means the songs fit one strict criteria: They were released in roughly the year before the story takes place. For example, all the Part 1 songs were released Spring 1986 through Spring 1987. So zero anachronisms!

Scroll past the YouTube video to learn why I included the Part One songs. Parts Two and Three to come in later posts.

  • Tidal (I use this service because it pays artists more and has the best sound quality)
  • Spotify (embedded below)
  • YouTube (also embedded below)
  • Amazon
  • Apple (coming soon (?) it’s being a PITA about transferring and displaying the playlist under my pen name even though that’s the name on the account 🤦)
Cicadas soundtrack on Spotify
Cicadas soundtrack on YouTube

Notes on Part One (1987) songs:

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2: In Part One, Danny’s wearing a Joshua Tree shirt (for a while, at least). Little does he know how well the song describes the journey his life will take. According to analysts on the internet, the song is written in the style of King David of Psalms fame.

I have climbed highest mountains
I have run through the fields
I have driven across Kansas oh god it's so flat forever and ever in all directions please kill me
Only to be with you

The Kiss by The Cure: Having just met ten minutes prior, Joel has Danny listen to this song, the opening track of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. Bold choice, Joel. Bold choice.

Play in the Sunshine by Prince: Joel and Danny listen to Prince’s Sign o’ the Times in the meadow on a bubblegum-pink Street Beat boombox. THIS. SONG. IS. JOY.

Before my life is done
Someway, somehow
I'm gonna have fun

A Man Could Get Arrested by Pet Shop Boys: Joel mumbles the title line when Danny says they should stop flapping their arms “like chickens caught in a storm.” Then he starts singing the song, but Danny doesn’t recognize it, so it goes unnamed in the text. Deep POV, baby!

Cemetry Gates* by The Smiths: At the end of Part One, Joel gives Danny a cassette of The Smiths’ Hatful of Hollow, which he in turn got from the British exchange student who recently stayed with his family (and with whom Joel had his first same-sex sexytimes). But oh noes, Hatful of Hollow came out years earlier, making it ineligible for this list. So instead I chose one from 1986’s The Queen is Dead, a song that happens to be my favorite Smiths song of all time, partly because it’s upbeat, partly because Oscar Wilde is on my side (see lyrics below), and partly because…I don’t know, that ineffable magic that makes a song plant a flag in one’s heart.

As far as Cicadas goes, the lyrics show a pair of friends, one of whom is trying to impress the other by dropping dubious knowledge. Sound familiar?

A dreaded sunny day
So I meet you at the cemetery gates
Keats and Yeats are on your side
While Wilde is on mine.

*Not a typo. The song title is purposely misspelled, as is the pronunciation of “plagiarise” in the song, implying the narrator is not as well-read as he claims. Deep POV again, baby!

Every Little Counts by New Order: This Cute AF final track off the Brotherhood album makes me think of Joel and Danny’s laughing fits (both sober and stoned) and their general juvenile dorkiness. It also speaks to the preciousness of their time together while abandoning all sentimentality:

Every second counts
When I am with you
I think you are a pig
You should be in a zoo

Now We’re Getting Somewhere by Crowded House: One of my top 10 songs of the 80s. When I went to study in London, my best friend sent me a mixtape that concluded with this tune. To me it’s about that youthful impatience for a better world, and the moment one realizes that it takes work but we will get there if we have faith in each other. It will forever make me dance and hope.

Swan Swan H by R.E.M.: Like Joel says, it’s in 6/8 time (for awkward waltzing) and refers to the tragic human cost of the American Civil War.

What's the price of heroes?
Six of one, half-dozen the other
Tell that to the captain's mother

The Life’s Rich Pageant album was one that spurred kids in my generation to activism, whether for peace or the environment or human rights, which is why my favorite line is from These Days:

Fly to carry each his burden, we are young despite the years
We are concerned, we are hope despite the times

To this day I sing that line at the top of my lungs, and I believe it with all the sincerity a Gen X heart can contain.

Cicadas is out NOW!

There’s so much I want to tell you about Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story, but when I finally sat down to write my release-day newsletter and blog post, I was paralyzed. Should I discuss the theme of memory and how music and photography both feed and distort it? Should I talk about cicadas as symbols of ecstasy and resurrection? Or explain why I took the comma out of the original subtitle (A Totally Ordinary, Epic Love Story)?

None of those book-club topics would mean anything if you haven’t read the book, so I’ll just talk about what it means to me.

🕐

🕑

Okay, an hour has passed and my words all sounded trite, so I deleted them. I’ll just say that Cicadas is my most personal book yet. Maybe that’s because I started writing it during the pandemic. A lot of authors turned inward during that time, drawing upon the wells of their own selves and pasts, and I was no exception. Maybe this story, first born as an idea in 2004, just needed a quiet time to grow.

Anyway, I hope you come to love Joel and Danny-Dan-Daniel as much as I do. Or at least half as much.

Text: "One Day in 1987...One Night in 2004...One Love to Last a Lifetime." plus tropes: "Third Chances, Meant to Be, Love Across Time, Older MCs" Image: Book cover of Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story by Avery Cockburn. Illustrated cover features a winding road from top to bottom. At the top, a man is walking with a bag over his shoulder, and at the bottom a man is sitting on a bench listening to music on headphones. Along the road is a pink boom box and a pink Discman with headphones. A cicada with a pink heart flutters beneath the title

What if you had a second chance at a second chance?

One day in 1987

Budding scientist Joel and cowboy-quarterback Danny meet amid the arrival of seventeen-year cicadas. Like the loud, lusty insects, the boys bond through song, reveling in the heat and hope of early summer—until fate tears them apart.

One night in 2004

During the next wave of cicadas, Joel and Dan find their connection stronger than ever. Boyhood fascination becomes an irresistible (and inconvenient!) passion, one that will unite and divide them for another seventeen years.

One love to last a lifetime

At the dawn of 2021, Joel and Daniel reach out, and in a heartbeat, the years and miles between them fall away. But to make their next reunion last forever, they must face their troubled pasts and embrace their boundless future.

Cicadas is a uniquely American, ridiculously romantic tale about memory, nostalgia, and the courage to dance into an untold tomorrow.

Order Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story

See more about Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story, including a tiny trailer plus a sample chapter

Preorder CICADAS and watch teaser trailer

You can now preorder the Kindle version of Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story! The paperback will be available to order on release day, Thursday, June 20.

While you’re waiting for next Thursday, check out Cicadas‘ teeny tiny teaser trailer:

Teaser trailer for Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story

What if you had a second chance at a second chance?

One day in 1987

Budding scientist Joel and cowboy-quarterback Danny meet amid the arrival of seventeen-year cicadas. Like the loud, lusty insects, the boys bond through song, reveling in the heat and hope of early summer—until fate tears them apart.

One night in 2004

During the next wave of cicadas, Joel and Dan find their connection stronger than ever. Boyhood fascination becomes an irresistible (and inconvenient!) passion, one that will unite and divide them for another seventeen years.

One love to last a lifetime

At the dawn of 2021, Joel and Daniel reach out, and in a heartbeat, the years and miles between them fall away. But to make their next reunion last forever, they must face their troubled pasts and embrace their boundless future.

Cicadas is a uniquely American, ridiculously romantic tale about memory, nostalgia, and the courage to dance into an untold tomorrow.

New book coming June 20!

I’m so excited to bring you the novel I started *checks watch* three years and a month ago. Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story will be out on the summer solstice, June 20!

Book cover of Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story by Avery Cockburn. Illustrated cover features a winding road from top to bottom. At the top, a man is walking with a bag over his shoulder, and at the bottom a man is sitting on a bench listening to music on headphones. Along the road is a pink boom box and a pink Discman with headphones. A cicada with a pink heart flutters beneath the title
Book Cover of Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story (June 20, 2024)

What if you had a second chance at a second chance?

One day in 1987

Budding scientist Joel and cowboy-quarterback Danny meet amid the arrival of seventeen-year cicadas. Like the loud, lusty insects, the boys bond through song, reveling in the heat and hope of early summer—until fate tears them apart.

One night in 2004

During the next wave of cicadas, Joel and Dan find their connection stronger than ever. Boyhood fascination becomes an irresistible (and inconvenient!) passion, one that will unite and divide them for another seventeen years.

One love to last a lifetime

At the dawn of 2021, Joel and Daniel reach out, and in a heartbeat, the years and miles between them fall away. But to make their next reunion last forever, they must face their troubled pasts and embrace their boundless future.

Cicadas is a uniquely American, ridiculously romantic tale about memory, nostalgia, and the courage to dance into an untold tomorrow.

Request an Advance Review Copy

Add it to your Goodreads

Teaser trailer for Cicadas: A Totally Ordinary Epic Love Story

Cicadas will be available on release day in both Kindle and paperback, and I hope to have an audiobook version by the end of the summer!

P.S: I’m still working hard on Playing By Ear, so never fear, both it and Men in Shorts, the Glasgow Lads short-fic collection, are still in the pipeline! Cicadas is a stand-alone novel, so there’s no danger of my attention being permanently pulled away from the Lads before the series is finished. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿💪

We stayed on the boat from A Christmas Harbor!

Last weekend my husband and I spent the weekend in Annapolis (the Maritime Republic of Eastport, specifically), living aboard the boat I used as a model for David’s vessel, the Many Waters.

I wasn’t able to travel to Annapolis last year while writing A Christmas Harbor, which meant I had to settle for Google Street View. So I was incredibly eager to see the living places that felt so familiar to me from pictures, and super excited to share this behind-the-scenes look with you all.

Note: This post includes teeny tiny spoilers (e.g., “This is where they first kissed”) for my standalone M/M Romance novella, A Christmas Harbor, which is on sale this month for just $2.99!

Click on each photo to see a bigger version.

Starting at the beginning of the story with Paul walking through Annapolis at night:

I can’t show you the sad piano bar, because I made it up. Later, on their way to David’s boat, they pass through this same part of town. If you were facing the Christmas tree in the photo above, behind you would be Annapolis harbor, specifically “Ego Alley,” which according to David is named for “obvious yacht-related reasons.”

Boat in harbor decked out in lights and a lit-up snowman

In one corner of the harbor, Paul and David come across the Alex Haley/Kunta Kinte memorial (in the book this happens at night):

Speaking of civil rights struggles, they then discuss David’s military service under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. This seems like a good place to share the photos I took on the US Naval Academy walking tour (highly recommended).

Then Paul and David arrive at the Spa Creek drawbridge, where they have their first kiss. This would have been their view if it were about 7 hours earlier and not sleeting:

The Maritime Republic of Eastport, David’s fiercely independent neighborhood
The drawbridge as seen from David’s boat.

David shows Paul his boat’s light display from the Eastport Lights Parade, which we were able to watch live from the deck of the “Many Waters.”

Then the most AWFUL thing happened to us in real life: one of the boats in the parade, one we LOVED the first time it came around, ended the night by playing Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” thus causing thousands of people in the crowd to lose Wham-ageddon all at once! I was furious at this reckless deployment of WMD (Wham! of Mass Destruction).

Where was I? Oh, David’s boat. Here’s a nighttime view taken from the prow. You can see part of the marina in the background, as well as the line of people gathered on the road to the drawbridge to watch the parade.

Let’s go inside!

Interior photo of small boat saloon (living room). Two blue settees flank the space with a table between them. The decor is a warm wooden finish surface. Two skylights let in sunshine
Saloon (living room). In the background is the forward berth, what Paul called the “triangle bed.”

The next morning they awake to a marina covered in snow, which I was not able to arrange. It’s still beautiful, though, no?

Marina as seen from the Eastport end of the drawbridge
Annapolis as seen from the deck of the “Many Waters.” In the center appears the dome of the US Naval Academy cathedral.
Sunny daytime photo of marina dock. a wooden building is painted turquoise
Docks! Also taken from boat deck. Really not a bad view to wake up to.
Truth.

Rainbow Advent Calendar story!

Green Grows the Holly: a Glasgow Lads Holiday Short

“We’ll always be the luckiest lads in Glasgow.”

Hello and Happy Holidays! I’m so thrilled to be part of the Rainbow Advent Calendar again, run by the incredible author Alex Jane. This year, I’m bringing you a fun wee holiday short featuring the couple from the first Glasgow Lads novel, Playing For Keeps, and the followup short story Play It Safe: Fergus and John! It also features cameos from several other beloved characters from the series, including Liam, Robert, Ben, and the inimitable Lord Andrew.

After Fergus and John’s wedding plans face a last-minute upheaval, can they salvage the situation (with the help of a few friends) and savor their first Christmas together?

Download Green Grows the Holly in your choice of format at Bookfunnel (including PDF to read in your browser if that’s more your thing). And don’t forget to visit the Rainbow Advent Calendar Facebook group to read new stories every day between now and Christmas! (Now that my writing is finished for the month, I’ll be curling up with all the ones I’ve missed thus far.) Check out the Master List for all stories.

Text: "Green Grows the Holly A Glasgow Lads Holiday Short Avery Cockburn" Image: holly branch with green leaves and bright red berries. Background: white linen cloth with subtle pattern

Mistletoe acquired! A wee Must Love Christmas excerpt

Must Love Christmas comes out in only 3 days! The preorder is already up, and the paperback should be on sale by tomorrow (I would make them available on the same day, but Amazon doesn’t allow paperback preorders for indie authors).

Meantime, Must Love Christmas‘s companion novel, Throwing Stones, is on sale through Monday! Only 0.99 in the US and UK, and discounted in every other country.

I’ve been sharing one- or two-line teasers from Must Love Christmas for the last few days, but today I finally had enough time (after uploading the final book and doing Thanksgiving) to add a longer excerpt.

This scene takes place during Simon and Garen’s first “night out” since Simon left the hospital. Naturally, it’s to buy a real Christmas tree, because hard-core ho-ho-ho‘er Garen won’t settle for an artificial one. At this point they are still just friends and flatmates, but both of them are longing for more.

As they went to the till to pay for the tree, Garen came to a sudden stop beside a display of assorted greenery.

Simon looked up to see what he was staring at. In the corner of the display, beside a column of holly wreaths, hung several sprigs of mistletoe.

“Shall we get some of that?” Garen asked.

Simon cleared his throat. “It might add a touch of…” Extreme awkwardness. “Fun?”

“Definitely.” Garen grabbed the biggest mistletoe garland, bunched with painted-snow pine needles and cones. “Something for guests to kiss under at our party.”

Simon took the mistletoe so Garen could push his wheelchair over the dirt path toward the till. He ran his fingers over the white berries, his mind blending memories and fantasies of their mouths melding in passion. He was strong enough now to stand on his own beneath this mistletoe, strong enough to hold Garen in his arms while they kissed.

He was strong enough now to do a lot of things.

– From Must Love Christmas by Avery Cockburn, Chapter 12

Massive book giveaway!

This month, dozens of authors have teamed up to provide all the free books you need for a summer of hot, hot reads, in the Summer Heated Blitz Giveaway. Every subgenre represented!

My offering is Play On, the standalone prequel novella for the Glasgow Lads, a M/M sports romance series set in contemporary Scotland. Duncan and Brodie’s story is a sweet and sexy new-adult tale of pride over prejudice.

Follow this link by June 30 to grab your free books!

Shirtless muscular guy leaning over a table drinking coffee. Text: Summer Heated Blitz Romance Book Giveaway, Free Unlimited Downloads Available June 1-30, 2019

The Wee Things: Guest author Amy Aislin with The Nature of the Game

Hello and welcome to another round of The Wee Things! This is a new feature where authors spotlight important objects in their books, talk about their origins, and what these objects mean to their characters and themselves.

Today’s guest is Amy Aislin, author of the Stick Side series of m/m hockey romances. She’s here to talk about the latest installment, Book 2, The Nature of the Game, which just came out May 7.

Take it away, Amy!


Thank you for joining me to celebrate the release of my newest m/m romance, The Nature of the Game, and thank you so much to Avery for having me to talk about wee things!

The Nature of the Game, book two in the Stick Side series, is a second chance romance. Six years ago, the main characters—Ash and Dan—were in a relationship that didn’t end well. They haven’t spoken since then and now, all of a sudden, they’re back in each other’s lives.

Today’s wee thing I’m going to talk about? Sun catchers!

In The Nature of the Game, one of the main characters, Dan, works as a financial analyst for a print company. He’s more or less indifferent about his job. What he really loves is working with wood, especially to create whimsical items like sun catchers. The idea for Dan to create sun catchers came while I was writing book one in the series, On the Ice. I had just received this beautiful sun catcher as a gift, and I loved it so much that I had to include it in the book.

The artist behind this beautiful sun catcher is Giolla at Artwood Ireland and I loved his designs so much that most of Dan’s are based off them.

To find out who Dan gifts his sun catchers to, check out The Nature of the Game, available for purchase at:


More about The Nature of the Game

Six years ago, an ultimatum forced Dan Greyson to make a choice that cost him everything he loved most. One of those things? His boyfriend, hockey player Ashton Yager. Now that they’ve crossed paths again, Dan isn’t about to let the opportunity slip away. Ash’s reappearance in his life is just the catalyst Dan needs to escape the rut he’s fallen into…and win back Ash’s trust and love.

Ashton Yager, once burned and now a little bit shy, didn’t mean to publicly come out as bisexual. But now that he has, he’s got to deal with the consequences, including the fact that it might’ve cost him his NHL contract. With his job on the line, he needs to keep his head down, work hard, and play the best hockey of his life. Rekindling things with Dan? That’s not exactly keeping a low profile. It’s also never going to happen, not after Dan walked away once without an explanation.

When a hurricane forces Ash to seek shelter out-of-state, he and Dan find themselves in the same B&B, where old feelings resurface. But with everything Ash has on the line, does he dare play with fire again?

Excerpt:

Running a hand over his face, Dan glanced over to the hallway Ash had disappeared down, and then kept staring, waiting for Ash to reappear again like some smitten teenager who couldn’t control his hormones.

He was so very cool.

Tearing his eyes away, he scanned the restaurant, his gaze snagging on a woman sitting with a group of friends. In her early twenties, she had brown hair to her shoulders and purple glasses were perched on her nose. She sunk into her chair with a grimace when Dan caught her ogling him, her lips twitching up in embarrassment. Dan smiled back at her despite the across-the-room flirting doing nothing for him. All he could think about was Ash. Ash’s arms streaked with dust; Ash’s muscles straining as they moved furniture around; Ash’s laughter when Dan nearly swallowed a dust bunny; Ash’s mad scramble to the other side of the apartment when Dan came down the stepladder with the spider colony; Ash’s expression when he talked about hockey; the emotion in Ash’s eyes when Dan had shown up earlier.

It was Ash. It had always been Ash.

Dan’s smile grew when the man himself reappeared next to him.

“Who are you smiling at?” Ash stood next to the booth, hands on his hips. His scowl would scare small children away.

“Um, you?”

Assuming they were leaving, Dan stood . . . and ran into a wall of muscle when Ash didn’t budge. Ash was warm and big and strong, and Dan forgot all his words. He swallowed hard and told himself the shiver was from the air conditioning.

Ash looked over his shoulder, scowled some more, and growled, “We’re leaving.”

They left. The walk back to Ash’s apartment was silent but for Ash’s stiff shoulders proclaiming his unhappiness with Dan, dinner, or the world at large. Who knew.

“Are you okay?”

“Just…” Ash gestured wildly, arms flying. “I’m trying to sort some stuff out. In my head.”

“O…kay.” Whatever that meant.

Reaching Ash’s apartment, Ash slammed the door behind them and whirled on Dan, hands on his hips. “Do you want to date women?”

“Like, right this second?” I only want to date you. “Not particularly.”

“What about the woman from The Tavern?”

“Who?”

“You know.” Ash gestured. “The one you were smiling at.”

“Why are you being weird?”

“I’m being weird.” Ash huffed and paced away. “You were the one eye-flirting while I took a two-minute bio break.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“No idea what I’m…” He trailed off, jaw ticking, his eyes fire and fury. Pacing back to Dan, he clamped a hand behind Dan’s head, pulled him forward, and kissed him.

Ash kissed him.

Ash kissed him.

Ash kissed him.

Dan stood shocked and immobile.

“Gonna kiss me back?” Ash murmured against Dan’s lips, walking him backward until his back hit the wall next to the door. “Or just stand there like a corpse?”

More about Amy Aislin

Amy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in the suburbs of Toronto, Amy is a marketer/fundraiser at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including travelling, astronomy, ecology, and baking. She binge watches too much anime, and loves musical theater, Julie Andrews, the Backstreet Boys, and her hometown of Oakville, Ontario. 

Visit Amy: