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 Sea

Face the King

Possibly due in part to Dan DelVecchio’s above mentioned guitar effects, last September I was seriously  s  w  o  o  o n  i  n  g  over the New York based alternative band Face The King and posted their amazing song The Stage.  If you checked out that post, you’ll understand why I was so psyched when the band uploaded their new single, The Sea, to the Sirenstories SoundCloud.

The Sea is an anthemic song that will serve Face The King well this summer when they join the Warped Tour on its twentieth anniversary. (Yep, the Warped Tour is turning twenty, scary, right?) It’s a song that brings to mind U2 at the pinnacle of their fame.

The lyrics to The Sea are gorgeous. Beautiful and darkly romantic. They add so much to the sweeping sound of this epic song—just take a listen. Let the sound waves of The Sea break over you.

The avalanche . . .
The perfect place to hide
The rolling fields
Beneath the quiet and the white

And if you leave you know I’ll follow
Hold onto me and I won’t let go

Here comes the wave . . .
It’s crashing over me
Immovable against the moving sea

I turn to the sea
The water is coming in
And every day
A chance to end or to begin

And if you leave you know I’ll follow
Hold on to me and I won’t let go

Here comes the wave . . . 
It’s crashing over me
Immovable against the moving sea
Here comes the wave . . . 
It’s breaking over me
Unbreakable against the breaking sea

Am I sinking, am I swimming?
Standing still and in between
(Am I sinking, am I swimming?)
The surface rises to my knees
(Am I sinking, am I swimming?)
Should we stay or should we leave?
(Am I sinking, am I swimming?)
Don’t be afraid, hold on to me…
Hold on to me
Hold on to me
Hold on to me . . . 

PS Here’s a pic of Dan DelVecchio, because I knew you’d want to see the guy who uses those effects . . .

Dan DelVecchio

To see the rest of the band and find out more about them and their fantastic music, visit their website, or connect with them on fb and twitter.

Night Owl

NIGHTOWL

Today I was working on a new manuscript, which really means, I was listening to a lot of new music.

New and new. That’s just what I do. A story has to have a soundscape. A soundtrack all its own.

Later, some songs will fall by the wayside, and I’ll wind up with a playlist made up entirely of songs I adore, that can transport me to my fictional world immediately.

It’s like, double escape. Double journey. Good as double chocolate. If you write, try it. Writing to music is my favorite thing to do, besides maybe singing.

Naturally, I wound up today at the Sirenstories SoundCloud, my secret source for new indie music. In the cloud I found Night Owl, a beautiful, evocative song by Megan McClean.

After listening to Night Owl a few times, I stopped working on my shiny new novel and decided it was time to share the song with you.

Barry Snaith of Wakefield, Britain, who goes by the name, The Inconsistent Jukebox, produced Night Owl, and says of Megan and the song, “I love her voice and it’s a truly beautiful song. It was a pleasure to add what I could to an already haunting piece of art.”

“Megan had originally recorded this on some shitty little mobile phone (probably inside her pocket by the sound of it!). I hope you all like it and can get through the rough sonic quality to see the diamond within.”

We definitely see it Barry. We hear it. We love it.

Megan McClean goes by the nom-de-plume, War Is Noise. On Night Owl she sings and plays acoustic guitar.

Barry Snaith was kind enough to send me the lyrics for Night Owl, with a lovely note that included TONS of amazingness, and this:

“These are the words, but Megan tends to improvise. If you listen, you’ll find that she rarely sings the same way twice – it’s all utterly heartfelt, an outpouring of emotion. That’s what makes it so captivating.”

NIGHT OWL

Lover you pierce my heart


Like a night owl in the dark


And I don’t know how to say these words

Which are unheard

But so simple from my heart.

 

I praise The Lord above 


That is my humble word.


I’m a vagabond


And that is my heritage, dear,


So accept me or not.

 

Lover you pierce my heart


Like a night owl in the dark


And I don’t know how to say these words

Which are unheard

But so simple from my heart.

 

And, with arms stretched so wide


Into the night sky

Past is dead


But you still read what they said.


There is no charm.


Your heart was once warm.

 

Lover you pierce my heart


Like a night owl in the dark


And I don’t know how to say these words

Which are unheard

But so simple from my heart.

 

Album art image by Adrian James Hill.

PS Do yourself a favor and click the link for James Hill. Gorgeousness awaits you.

Coal, Pressure, Time

BANDLEADER

Coal, Pressure, Time is the latest musical effort from Bandleader, a talented indie group fronted by Vermont singer songwriter Patrick McCormack.

When Patrick contacted me and said he was kickstarting a new project, I was super excited and immediately became a supporter. The campaign was a success, and Coal, Pressure, Time, was released earlier this month. Today I’m psyched to share my favorite track from the CD, Can, Have, Will, a beautiful song that starts with a perfectly recorded guitar part and a vocal that brings Nick Drake to mind—a Nick Drake who isn’t so detached.

The casual, conversational vocal style of Can, Have, Will also reminds me of one of my favorite records of all time, an alt/country CD called Trace, from Son Volt.

Can, Have, Will is full of sweetness. The tune is uplifting, and the lyrics are both a promise, and an apology.

Trust in me I’ll be your first

Drop the reigns, girl I can take your worst

I can take your worst

 

Speak to me, I’ll lend an ear

Tell me things like no one else should hear

You know it’s crystal clear

 

I owe your body and your soul for being so cold

I mistreated you, but I can make it right again

I can, I have, and I will

 

Seagull bones and stones you keep

Take them home, reminds you of the beach

When you went with me

 

Make it known our souls will keep

Spoken code scripted underneath

Scripted underneath

 

I owe your body and your soul for being so cold

I mistreated you, but I can make it right again

I can, I have, and I will

As someone who once recorded in a converted barn in upstate New York, I can imagine what it was like for Bandleader to set up a temporary studio in an old hunting lodge in the wilds of Vermont. Two words: Dream Session. Love this description from Bandleader‘s press kit:

“About an hour from familiar territory, the hand constructed hunting lodge sat cold in the remaining snow beside its recently thawed brook. Only here could the band escape cell reception and all responsibility to focus solely on the task at hand. They recruited trusted collaborator and Chicago based engineer, Jamie Carter. With a mutual dedication to the same ideals, they kept an unbroken focus on distilling a moment, and preserving expressions . . . The release of Coal, Pressure, Time marks the dawn of a young, ambitious band with a solid and determined path. With both eyes on the horizon, Bandleader carries on in search of new and fertile grounds on which to rest their amps.”

pmlodge

Nearly two years ago Sirenstories featured Ovenbird, one of the songs Patrick McCormack recorded as a  solo artist. It remains one my favorite songs on the blog. Please check it out here.  As far as the band, “Bandleader came together as a result of front man Patrick McCormack‘s quest to bring his singer/songwriter material to the stage. After recruiting three other like minded musicians, the band quickly outgrew the notion of playing backup, and instead, an unpredictably colorful sound took life.”

In our back and forth, Patrick explained, “The group consists of myself, Jordon Chamberlin, and Alex Cseh. Our bassist, Dan, is no longer a part of the band, officially. Though he is filling in at our next show, we are currently searching for a new bassist.  At the moment, we consider ourselves a three-piece, that’s the core group.  No hard feelings whatsoever with Dan, he just had too much on his plate, and lives 40 minutes away from us.”

Dan? You might want to rethink that commute.

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Please follow Patrick McCormack on twitter and Bandleader on fb.

PS Isn’t the album art gorgeous? I’ll share info if I get it. Meanwhile, who wants a t-shirt? Yes, please.

The Commuters

COMMUTERS

As I Make My Way starts with a scratchy guitar riff that morphs into a burst of late Beatlesque sound then moves into a groove that for some reason, although it’s slower, makes me thing of Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend. Maybe it’s not the rhythm, maybe it’s the lo-fi production, (which I love), or that rough around the edges guitar part, but I swear, there’s a little bit of Sweet’s megahit in there.

And then, As I Make My Way is nothing but The Commuters, with their very own pop/rock, anthemic sound. And even though it’s a band sound, the mix never gets crowded, never becomes a wall of music, and stays refreshingly lo-fi—that hint of Sweet’s Girlfriend, all grown up, and possibly holding a U2 CD in her hands—with vocals that are sometimes tough, sometimes tender, always honest. Grounded.

I’m seeing light from the other side of morning
Reflected light from the other side of day
I’m seeing light from the other side of morning
I’m seeing light, my mind is blown away

…My mind is blown away — away
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I watch the world from the other side of owning
The things I’ve held, I’ve let them go away
I watch the world from the other side of owning
I watch the world, desires have slipped away

…Desires have slipped away — away
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I’m on a journey, I’ve got my faith
I don’t have to worry about my fate
The planets align as the will dictates
I’m writing it out as I make my way

I walk through time with a different understanding
Embracing what I see along the way
I walk though time with a different understanding
I’ll figure it out, as I make my way

…as I make my way — my way
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I’m on a journey, I’ve got my faith
I don’t have to worry about my fate
The planets align as the will dictates
I’m writing it out as I make my way…

Siren Zeeshan Zaidi, frontman and founder of The Commuters, was generous enough to share the story behind As I Make My Way.

“This song is about the vision I had all my life of becoming a professional musician and just going for it. I’d been in and around the music industry much of my life, but had put my own musical dreams on the back burner. One day I was deep in thought and said to myself: Some day I will die. And when that day comes I don’t want to look back on my life and kick myself for not doing what deep down inside I’ve always wanted to do. So the song is about that moment, and going for it, and not worrying too much about outcomes — about giving it your all and just trusting that things will work out as they are supposed to.

Ironically, even though this was the obvious first single, in the studio, this was one of the last songs to come together. It was lagging a bit behind the other songs and I wasn’t sure if it would even make the album. Then one day I said to Uri — let’s take a cue from the song itself and lay down some cool parts, starting with a great intro, without caring too much about how it turns out. Just let it go. So then I came up with the two guitar parts you hear in the intro and put them down, and Uri was messing around with a keyboard and came up with the really killer synth riff, as well as the scratchy sound at the beginning.
Felt a lot like magic.”

And sounds a lot like magic. So glad The Commuters got it down.

The Commuters are: Zeeshan Zaidi (Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Songwriter, Co-Producer), Uri Djemal (Guitar, Keyboards, Co-Producer), Ben Zwerin (Bass), and Paul Amorese (Drums). Their full 11 song album Rescue was mastered by White Stripes/Ryan Adams collaborator Fred Kevorkian and includes Take a Step Back, a gorgeous ballad that I’m particularly in love with. Rescue is available on bandcamp so you can easily choose the tracks you want, or get the entire album, which is what I recommend.

The music video for As I Make My Way is of the Day In A Life variety, but what makes it so interesting, besides the fact that it uses the band’s hometown of NYC as a backdrop, is that it shows Zeeshan Zaidi as the start of the day not as a musician, but as The Man In The Gray Flannel suit tech entrepreneur that he is in his ‘other’ life.

This Could Be Yours

ThisCouldBeYours

This Could Be Yours is certainly an evocative name, but maybe this Berlin based band should be called They Could Be Huge. They’ve got all the ingredients for pop stardom.

A pulsing  body of an indie/postrock song lying in an atmospheric electronica bed, At Your Feet is intense, yet almost delicate at the same time. It’s driving, but contemplative.

I hit the road
Become insane
If those forces really please you
I will be the one that you never see again

It’s a misery that’s fitting
“Desperation Of The Day”
And you don’t seem to know
All those ghosts around here
seizing hold of your friends

Oh yes, you were laughing out loud
To witness the words that you’re spitting
Shuts my mouth

You never know when to stop
You never fall

Down at my spot
Decomposing and decay
Please don’t open up those eyelids
Don’t you get a glimpse of that
dwarf at your feet

Oh yes, you were laughing out loud
To witness the words that you’re spitting
Shuts my mouth

To silence you once for all 
Every minute that I stayed
This plan did grow
I wanna make you lose
I could have sworn

You never know when to stop
You never fall

This Could Be Yours is Max Wiegand (Vocals, Guitar), Levin Siert (Guitar), Fabian Haupt (Drums), and Jan Möller (Bass).
Max was kind enough to tell me a bit about the band.

ThisCouldBeYoursBandShot

“The core of the band has existed for about ten years now. Everything started in a town called Bremerhaven which belongs to Bremen but is 60 km more far to the north. The three of us (Fabi, Levin, and me ) grew up close to the northern sea. The last missing member, Jan, is from Berlin originally, and took over the bass almost two years ago. We came to Berlin in late 2009, where we went through various changes, not just in line-up but also in terms of music. Also the name ‘This Could Be Yours’ was found here.”

I love the way Max says that the name of the band was “found”, as if it was waiting for them.

The official music video for At Your Feet is equal to the song, a combination of video and animation that is just as pleasing as the mix of musical styles.

This Could Be Yours will announce some new tour dates soon. Hope NYC makes the list, because I love these guys. Even without the stage makeup.

ThisCouldBeYours3