Interview With YA Author Mimi Cross + Book Give-away.

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

My friend and fellow author MIMI CROSS, just launched her debut book, BEFORE GOODBYE,  a YA contemporary that’s has all the elements of a page turner – teen angst, love lost and found, dealing with loss, friendship and who to trust, and more.  One lucky reader of this blog will have a chance to win a signed copy of the book.  See the end of the post to learn how.  For now, here’s Mimi:

Hey Darlene, thanks for having me on your blog.          mimi photo

You’ve asked me to answer a few questions, including how I came to write children’s books. This is probably the only thing about writing prose that’s crystal clear for me: the inspiration came from my son.

Up until my son was born, for nearly twenty years, I’d been a singer songwriter. I taught music in the schools for fifteen of those years, after receiving my Bachelor of…

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Light of Day Winterfest 2016

My Debut Novel, BEFORE GOODBYE

Finally posting the big news on my own blog—my debut novel BEFORE GOODBYE is coming out New Year’s Day! 

BEFORE GOODBYE is a Kindle First pick, which  means if you have a Kindle, you can read the book now before its official release on 1/1/16 when it will be available across all formats. 

 

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Below, I’ve pasted what my publisher has to say about the book, but there are a few spoilers. If it’s enough for you to know that BEFORE GOODBYE is about musicians, read no further!

As a novelist, Cross channels the same raw passion and intensity to tell the story of Cate, a young guitarist coping with hurt, confusion, and heartbreak.

Music means more than anything to high school student Cate Reese; it’s also what unites her with Cal Woods. Devoted classical guitar players, Cate and Cal are childhood friends newly smitten by love—until a devastating car accident rips Cal out of Cate’s life forever. Blaming herself for the horrific tragedy and struggling to surface from her despair, Cate spirals downhill in a desperate attempt to ease her pain.

Fellow student David Bennet might look like the school’s golden boy, but underneath the surface the popular athlete battles demons of his own. Racked with survivor’s guilt after his brother’s suicide, things get worse when tragedy darkens his world again—but connecting with Cate, his sister’s longtime babysitter, starts bringing the light back in. As Cate and David grow closer, the two shattered teenagers learn to examine the pieces of their lives . . . and, together, find a way to be whole again.

Beautifully written and emotionally resonant, BEFORE GOODBYE is a mesmerizing debut that reminds readers that you can find hope in times of tragedy—and harmony in times of discord.

Wow, right?

For all of you who came to the blog looking for music, you might appreciate how my editor feels about the novel. Warning: the following contains spoilers. But it’s really beautiful :)

Reading Before Goodbye for the first time felt very much like listening to my favorite symphony (Beethoven’s Sixth, for the record)—the highs, the lows, the beauty, and the tragedy that coexist within the music. The story starts on a high with Cate, a young woman who is at the top of her artistic game, in love with classical guitar, and also a little bit in love with her childhood friend Cal, fellow guitarist and creative muse. When disaster strikes, Cate is thrown off the path she’d always imagined for her life and forced to find a new one. How do you pick up the pieces of your heart and move on when you can’t find a reason to? Cate discovers help where she least expects it and must rely on her guitar to learn to love again.

Author Mimi Cross pulls from her real-life experiences in writing this very personal story, and her voice echoes on every page. A lifetime performer and music educator, Cross understands what it means to lose yourself in a song, to be lifted away on a stream of melody, to let music carry you through tragedy. Cross has communicated through her music for years. In Before Goodbye, she shares that music in the written word through Cate, and it is just as affecting and heart wrenching as you’d imagine.

When I finished reading Before Goodbye, I let out the breath I seemed to have been holding for four hundred pages. This book is a journey, tense but riveting, tragic yet hopeful, and when it’s over, I hope you experience the same feeling I did: that overwhelming peace that comes when you’ve just listened to a piece of music that touches your soul.

– Miriam Juskowicz, Editor

I hope everyone who reads the book loves it as much as Miriam does. If you read it, I hope you’ll let me know what you think.

It’s been a busy year or two, with all the writing, which is why I haven’t posted much music here on Sirenstories. Also, there’s a problem with some of the SoundCloud files on this site, and I haven’t been able to figure out a fix. The issue makes me hesitant about posting more music . . .

There is a lot of music in BEFORE GOODBYE though, or at least conversations about music. Descriptions of music.

Guess I had to put it somewhere.

Xo!

Mimi

The Tree

 

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A bleakness of mood that evokes Nick Drake.

Phrasing that raises the specter of Jeff Buckley.

British songwriter and photographer J.C. Wrightson’s stark songs are instantly ear catching. Deceptively simple on first listen, they are minimalist in nature, and grainy in texture, and it is there, in that bit of a blur, that you feel the rub: Wrightson’s songs are not as simple as they sound, not simply sad, not simply vulnerable. They are those things, but they are also something more. A finger crooking, not so much in invitation, but to indicate direction: it is here, look here, in the seam of the song. Listen to the words, and also, listen to the words that are missing.

Something existential this way comes, disguised as an emo neo folk song.

J.C. Wrightson’s brief Twitter bio mentions that he’s living in Stockholm, but that’s pretty much all I know about his personal life. I started this post months ago, and tonight Wrightson’s website is down, so I can’t include the bio that I’d made a note about, the one that I apparently thought was, “as romantic as they come.”

Hopefully I can find out more about J.C. Wrightson in the future and update this post, but I’ve already waited too long to get this song up. Here’s The Tree, recorded live in Carlisle, UK. After you listen to it, you may want to check out the music video below. Nothing is Forever had me holding my breath, waiting to see what would happen—and so much happens, and nothing happens. Beautiful, and heartbreaking, and like The Tree, the video for Nothing is Forever is deceptively simple, and a killer. 

 

1st Kiss on Defiance July 10th

 

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I’ve been head down in a revision—apologies for the radio silence!

Meanwhile, THANK YOU to all the Sirens who have filled the Sirenstories SoundCloud with their awesomeness. Hang tight, I’ll get your music up.

For now, just want to quickly share—

1st Kiss will be on the July 10th episode of Defiance. This is season two for the amazingly imaginative show which airs on the Syfy channel.

The song will play in the background of a  scene that takes place in the Need Want, the local bar/brothel in the town of Defiance. It should be in-ter-est-ing. . . )

1st Kiss

It’s a little push pull 
It’s a battle of our wills 
You will want and want more 
Like water washing on the shore

It’s a type of tug of war 
What’s the body there for 
Hips like an open door 
Ego trip rich and soul poor

It felt like we were making love 
It felt like you were in my head 
Like you knew all the thoughts I never said

And oh how I wish that we could stay like this

A part of you that feels like mine
Sink into my Valentine 
God’s got a perfect design 
Right along our fracture line

It’s a little push pull 
It’s a battle of our wills be still 
You will want and want more 
Like water washing on the shore

It felt like we were making love 
It felt like you were in my blood 
Like there was something we both understood

And oh how I wish that we could stay like this

First kiss

PS Of course Defiance has a DJ . . .

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And a hero or two.

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Hooked

Hookedbill Today I’m featuring a different sort of Siren, New York City playwright Danielle Burby. The opening night of her new play Hooked is sold out, but if you’re lucky you may still be able to get tickets to one of the other nine performances at Bare Bones Theater Company.

Danielle is a writer-in-residence at Dramatic Question Theatre Company. She’s also a literary agent at HSG, and—full disclosure—she’s my agent. *resists urge to add lengthy string of smiley emoticons* When I asked Danielle about the inspiration behind Hooked, she generously provided the following about the play, and her creative process.

Hooked is about a three roommates in their early twenties—one a hopeless romantic, one with a hidden past, and one with a fear of attachment, as they navigate the world of modern-day dating, love, and friendship. For twenty somethings, casual sex is an expectation; it’s the price of admission. The hookup culture is a mentality that informs how people approach everything from one-night stands to romance. I wanted to examine how different characters with conflicting desires and priorities react to this strict set of cultural rules. Hooked explores how this plays out in one weekend that changes everything. I actually started writing this play for fun when I was a junior in college and, my senior year, it morphed into a much bigger project that my school went on to produce. That version of the play is so different from the one that Bare Bones is producing that it feels like a completely different show to me at this point. The characters are the same, as is the overarching plot (for the most part), but the actual scenes and dialogue, are almost completely new. I think a real turning point was when I decided to add a bit of a ticking clock and condense it all to one weekend. Before that, even though the same things happened, it sprawled over months. I like it a lot better this way. This play went through years of revisions, which was sometimes fun and sometimes painful. The actors are definitely breathing new life into the show for me. Sitting in on the rehearsals is so entertaining, although I always feel a little silly when I laugh at my own dialogue. I can’t help it, they make it really funny.”

Hear that writers? YEARS of revision. And let’s not forget, a ticking clock. Pace is so important, and Hooked zips right along. After reading the script, I asked Danielle if I could post a bit of dialogue—the way I usually post lyrics here on Sirenstories. This is the part Danielle chose. Love it.

TESS:
Okay, how about while we wait I tell you about the guy I went home with last Saturday?
EMMA:
You told me about him already. With the whiskey?
TESS:
No not him. That was Friday. I’m talking about the guy from Saturday. The one with the plaid shirt?
EMMA:
No you didn’t!
TESS:
Ok. Well. We go back to his place-which is a pigsty by the way-and we’re messing around and he’s a really good kisser and I’m like, this is going to be amazing and then he goes, “I don’t have a condom so we’re going to have to do this raw dog.”
EMMA
He didn’t!
TESS:
He did.
EMMA:
Oh my god I can’t believe he actually said that! You didn’t though, right?
TESS:
I’m not stupid Em. I was like, “Well you’d better find one because there’s no way we’re doing it without.” So, and this is no joke, he literally put on his boxers, took a pillow to cover, you know, his area, and ran out into the hallway knocking on doors and asking people if they could spare a condom.
EMMA:
Oh my god! How does this crazy stuff always happen to you?
TESS:
I have no idea.
EMMA:
Did he end up finding one?
TESS:
Well, this guy down the hall lost his keys and cell phone at the club and couldn’t get into his apartment, but he had a ton of condoms-which he definitely didn’t need, by the way-and so he said we could have as many as we wanted as long as we let him sleep on the couch.
EMMA:
And did you?
TESS:
Yeah, why not? It was a pretty good deal all around.
EMMA:
But, you had sex while a random stranger was asleep on the couch?
TESS:
Hon, if I’m willing to have sex with a guy I’ve just met why would I have a problem with a drunken stranger in the next room while I do it? At least we got the condoms!
EMMA:
You’ve got a point. (Beat) So was it good?
TESS:
(Overplaying it a bit.)
So. So. Good.
EMMA:
Lucky.

Check out Kyle Grant, Stephanie Kaltsas, Marina Montes, Miriam Korn, and Ravi Tawney, the cast of Hooked.

Jeff Bennett is the director of Hooked, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, opening night is sold out. Apparently this is one of the best pre-sales experiences ever at Bare Bones—congratulations Danielle! And congratulations to the cast and director as well. Break a leg, Sirens!

You can connect with Danielle Burby on twitter and fb. Follow the blog Danielle runs for HSG here.