Monday, June 12, 2017

Music: “Nurturer and Savior of My Soul”

Author Evy Journey


Music plays a starring role in Hello, Agnieszka. At eight years old, Agnieszka hears her grandaunt give a recital at her home. Years later, here’s a part of what she says about that experience:

“The music began its drawn-out end slowly, mounting into a frantic rush. My muscles clenched, my heart beat faster and faster, and heat coursed through my body. When I thought I could get more and more excited, the notes slowed until the music stopped.

When my aunt lifted her fingers off the piano keys, it seemed everyone, but me, let out one gigantic breath. Me? I was panting.”

Agnieszka’s passion for music is kindled. 

She studies piano with her grandaunt who nurtures her dreams of becoming a concert pianist. But those dreams are shattered and for a short while, Agnieszka abandons her piano lessons and regrets what might have been. Eventually, though, she ends up taking solace in music, the very source of her first devastating loss. She’s sixteen when she realizes she must give up her dream, and she pours her frustration into her music:

“For the first time, I was conscious I played for myself alone, that I did not have to do so in service of a dream. I played for me. For how the music I could make with the piano intensified and then soothed my pain. For how it blotted out everything and became my whole world while it lasted. For how it promised to be the nurturer and savior of my soul.”

Classical music is also a major force in my life, not because I play an instrument but because I feel I must listen to it constantly. We have no classical radio stations in our area, but our audio system uses the magic of the internet. We have programmed rooms in our house to broadcast from other parts of the world with great classical radio stations: Paris at nine and noon, and Switzerland in the evening. 

Those hours add up to at least six in which music plays either for serious listening or as a soothing background for more involved activities. Add to those hours the rendezvous I have with my earphones when I exercise.

Who can endure music that lasts for minutes on end? What can I say? I may be an anachronism in an information-overloaded, gig-saturated high-tech world competing for flitting attention spans. The long, rich lingering works of long-dead masters touch me, thrill me, move me to tears.

The scenes quoted above are based on my own reactions to classical music, and what it does to me when I listen to it. Such is also true for other scenes in early chapters where music is featured.

Actually, my music tastes are eclectic. For this music-oriented novel set in the seventies, I bring in a musical icon of that period: American Pie by Don McLean. In one scene, her first love opens up Agnieszka’s constricted world when he plays the song on a jukebox.

Follow Evy on Facebook, Twitter & check out her Website

Friday, June 9, 2017

From Paper to Rock

Author Peter Darley

Very often, we find what we set out to accomplish can take the most unexpected twists and turns – the kind one would never have expected in a lifetime.  My journey into the writing world has been one of the more extreme examples.

I began writing my first novel, Hold On! – Season 1, in early 2010. Basing the tempo on some of my favorite thriller TV shows and movies (Prison Break and 24, in particular) and driven on by my ever-growing collection of rock CDs, I completed the first draft in early 2011. After spending several months editing it, the nightmares began.

It took me almost two years to get Hold On! signed. The rejections were extreme. Nevertheless, it was eventually taken on by an agent, and was quickly picked up by a publisher. One year later, a week before Hold On! was due to go to press, my publisher folded, and then my agent retired. I was back to square one. However, soon afterward, Writer’s Coffee Shop, the original publisher of Fifty Shades of Grey, took an interest in Hold On!, and we worked on it for four months – until they decided to completely ignore me.

Finally, in December 2013, Hold On! was signed to – let’s just say – ‘a publisher in New York’. And it was a total nightmare. I realized that by spending two years searching for a publisher, I had been leading myself off a cliff. In February, 2015, I bought the rights to Hold On! back from my publisher, and set up my own self-publishing outfit. I took it from almost #1,000,000 on Amazon’s rakings – to #1, all within six weeks.

Over the next four months, I released the sequels, Go! and Run!. Sales were flying, but 

I’d decided to call it quits.

And then something mind-blowing occurred.
Hold On by Peter Darley

Italian rock god, Pierpaolo Monti, found one of his songs, “Highway of Love” by Shining Line, in my faux Hold On! soundtrack video on Youtube. He contacted me on Facebook with a unique proposal. He wanted to write and produce the official theme song for my ‘next book’. (A soundtrack to a novel, in the same way you’d have a theme song to a movie.) This had never been done before.

I wrote the spin-off novel, Hold On! – Tomorrow, which came out on October 1st, 2016 to coincide with the release of its theme song, “Gotta Get Away” by Charming Grace. Pierpaolo had drafted in Nick Workman, the lead singer of international rock band, VEGA, to sing duet on the track, and the song was featured on an album entitled “We Still Rock”.  VEGA released their new single, “White Flag”, a song about my hellish journey in the writing world. Newspaper and radio interviews followed, and suddenly, my heroes had become my mates.

All of this led to a new career prospect for me, and I am now preparing to become a rock album producer.

The Hold On! series is founded on cliffhangers, suspense, bombshell turns, and shock-twist endings. Ironically, the story behind the scenes seems to have mirrored the dynamics of the series.

Gotta Get Away by Charming Grace –

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Habit of Writing

Author Yoleen Valai
It’s hard for me to recall time when I wasn’t writing. It seems that as soon as I could hold a pen, I was constantly scribbling something.
By the age of 10, that habit developed into a much bigger passion: Storytelling.
As na├»ve as it was, my first (handwritten) novel became very popular among my friends and their parents, and their grandparents alike. Five thick, 96-page composition books, filled with my crude at the time calligraphy and color illustrations, changed hands so many times, that when the volumes were returned to me they looked as if they had traveled to Saturn and back. People kept asking me every day when I would write more… That, probably, was the turning point when I realized that writing was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
It’s not my profession. It’s not what I do because I have to. Writing is what keeps me alive, what keeps me going. I write because I can’t survive otherwise. It’s my air, my nourishment, my passion and my true love.

The Rebirth of Francesca by Yoleen Valai
The idea for The Rebirth of Francesca (and, therefore, for the entire Francesca trilogy) was the result of a small argument with my best friend, who’s also an aspiring author. We started some projects together, but could never complete them for the simple reason that we couldn’t build anything whole. We created wonderful characters, we knew the settings, we wrote bits and pieces for the plots, but we were unable to make it work. During one of our on-line conversations regarding why it was so difficult to create a solid story, I told my friend, “Look, do you want to bet that I can come up with a hundred ideas right here, right now? However, ideas are just that- they don’t have any completeness to them, they simply float in the air!” And then I started telling her what I had in my mind at the moment, listing every tiny concept which could be used in a book plot. As I revealed the story that would become the source for my trilogy, we both paused for a moment and then had to agree that it was, indeed, a great idea.

 
Currently, I’m working on the second book of the trilogy, and can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Dare to dream. Dare to believe.

Yours truly,

Yoleen Valai   

Check out Yoleen on Facebook and her Website.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Letting go of a character. Is it difficult?

Author Khaled Talib
Many readers can’t get their mind off a character in a book. They fall in love with them. That feeling goes with TV and movie characters. From a reader or viewer’s point, this is quite understandable. Whether you’re reading a book or watching a show, all kinds of emotions are presented to you. It affects your senses.  You start to love or hate.

But I’ve never thought about the impact of emotions from a writer’s point of view. I would’ve expected that since writers are the inventors of their characters, they know these characters don’t exist in real life. I had this impression because I hadn’t written a novel yet. But if you ask me the question today, the answer is yes. I do get attached to my characters.

Imagine a writer’s world: Every single day sitting by the computer with their story. They create characters, then place them in different situations.  Spending six months, a year or ten years with them is like travelling on a bus ride with a group of friends. You get close.

For the most part, you try to be a professional. But emotions start to slip in. You want to believe that your creation is tangible.

Incognito by Khaled Talib
A reporter once asked me if I planned to do a series after my first novel was published. I resisted saying yes. I wanted to explore other stories with other characters. I was fond of my first protagonist, but I decided to move on to produce another novel in a different locale.

It takes a lot of energy to write a book. To bring back your character or characters require plenty of enthusiasm too. You tend to give yourself a sigh of relief once a book is released because all the writer thinks about is rest.  After the blood, sweat and tears, you ask yourself the question: do I want to do this all over again? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Strangely, I have had some thoughts about bringing back the characters from my soon to be published third novel, Gun Kiss.  I enjoyed writing the book as I didn’t feel it was work. I was telling New York Times bestselling author Ruth Harris how much fun it had been writing the story. She asked me how long it took, and I replied just six months. She said why not create a series if I enjoyed it so much.

While I can let go of some characters, I’m not ready yet to let go of others. It’s like playing God. You create people and express your love for them. They’re your children. But eventually you’ll have to send some to hell and others to heaven. 


Well, I’m not going to burn my characters. I’ll just keep them in a box for the time being. I know where to find them if I decide to cast them again. 

Follow Khaled on Facebook, Twitter and check out his Website