Writers, Readers—check it out! #PubforPR 

#PubforPR is:

Hundreds of talented authors, editors, illustrators, and literary agents joining together to offer their time, talent, and treasure to support the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Through this auction, you can bid on signed book bundles, personalized artwork, one-on-one conversations with editors or agents, and hundreds of other prizes.

The premise is simple: bid early and often, win and donate, claim your prize.

Please take a look! There are SO many generous offerings—you’ll definitely find something you wantneed!

What You’ll Find In This Auction

Thank you! XoMimi

Come Together, Right Now…

Hopefully you’ve already dipped into your pocket for people in Puerto Rico, or maybe you’ve helped folks in Houston. If you live in Monmouth County, there’s another cause that needs your contribution, and in return, you’ll hear some amazing stories!

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Project Write Now is delighted to announce this year’s annual fundraiser, “Come Together: A Performance + Party” to be held at the Two River Theater​ on Friday, October 13, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

If you’re local, I hope you’ll come hear a dramatic reading performed by students who will share their incredible writing. Michael Sarin and I will be playing miniature pieces of original music in between readings, something I’m really excited about. We hope the music will give the audience an extra moment to reflect on the the writers’ words, while at the same time evoking something more of the their work, possibly something invisible. (For a beautiful and articulate take on the concept of invisibility in writing, read this, an amazing piece from the August 25th New York Times Book Review by Roger Rosenblatt entitled “The Invisible Forces That Make Writing Work.”)

We’ll start the evening with a cocktail hour featuring music by singer-songwriter Austin Vuolo​. After the performance, the festivities will continue with more music, food, drinks, and lots of conversation and community!

Please join me for this special celebration! You can purchase tickets here.

For more information about Project Write Now, a non-profit dedicated to helping people of all ages become better writers as they gain the confidence, skills, and insight needed to reach their personal, academic, and professional goals, please visit the PWN website.

Thank you!

Crystal Kite voting is open! #SCBWI

SCBWI members it’s that time :)

Just click the pic and follow directions.

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And if you have an entry…

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Unfinished Song

Philly area Singer Songwriter Denise Moser was one of the first Sirens on this blog and I’m very happy to share the news that she’s released a new CD, Here Right Now.

The excellent, detailed review written by John Apice and published in No Depression on January 27th covers just about every aspect of Here Right Now, and he calls Unfinished Song the bravest song on the CD. I agree with him completely, and although guitarist Marc Moss did a wonderful job producing this gorgeous, honest collection of songs, Unfinished Song, an a cappella piece that gave me chills when I first heard it, is my favorite.

 

It’s lionhearted.

 

And it’s not just the fact that Denise Moser sings this song alone and unaccompanied that makes Unfinished Song so courageous, it’s the content, and the simple, profound resolution in her voice. If I was willing to bare my soul, like Denise does, this part of the post would be a lot longer. Instead, I’ll just say that I love this song so much, it hurts.

Blank paper is an old friend

My life’s unfinished song

Pretty lines and melodies

No rhyme to hang it on

I walk down roads look straight ahead

And then I change my mind 

I lose the path I double back

Regrets can be unkind

Bright stabs of inspiration

Sometimes I do my best

I put a good face on it

But this heart needs a rest

My mind is all a clutter

In places you can’t see

I never was a mother

That part of me bleeds

Denise released Here Right Now at the end of 2012, and despite the fact that I’m late with this post, she was generous enough to share her thoughts about Unfinished Song.

“It’s interesting to me that Unfinished Song resonates with people. I actually wrote that one a while back, just for me. It came out in one sitting with very little editing. No one else was ever supposed to hear it.

One day in the studio, I thought of it, and I wanted a good version for myself, so I asked Marc to start a new track, and I sang it. He liked it and planted the seed of an idea that I put it on the CD. I had it on the list of songs for consideration and shocked myself a bit that I put it on. It makes me feel vulnerable, and at the same time I don’t live in that space anymore.

Seven of the eleven songs on the CD were written within the past year and a half, and the other four are older ones that I wanted to include in this collection. I surprised myself a bit by what I left out and what I kept in some instances.

I feel proud of this CD. My dad died in March of 2011, and that ushered in a period of intense creativity – it felt like the veils between the sacred and the ordinary were thin. At the same time, I committed to songwriting for 55 minutes a day. I call it my Duck Sessions, because at the end of 55 minutes, the duck on my iPhone timer quacks. This has been my most prolific time, and I’m grateful that new songs continue to be unearthed. I’ve even begun writing customized songs for other people. There are two of those on this CD as well.”

The Believers Will Be Suspicious

The Light, which ironically, is a darkly beautiful song, is from the 11-track album A Year, Six Days, & Seven Nights. This alchemical blues tune was written by R.M. Isaiah and Craig Vail. Together, the two make up The Believers Will Be Suspicious.

Craig Vail plays acoustic guitar and electric guitar on The Light, and R.M. Isaiah plays nylon stringed guitar, bass, keys, and percussion. The honest, nearly spoken vocals are Isaiah’s as well. As I said in an earlier post, R.M. Isaiah’s San Francisco sound  is magically tragic. His voice on The Light, with its world-weary, slightly worn timbre, expresses feelings you may be familiar with, whether you are a musician or not.

You can put me down for your tonight show tomorrow
Televise my barroom battle cry
The walls have grown so tall now I can barely see the grey sky
I’m stuck inside and so low on supplies

Late one night I saw the light
In the heart of a cold dark sky
It was something strange that I cannot explain
But I know I’m never gonna be the same

I go on at ten, so until then, what do I do?
I’m at the bar drinking, thinking of you
If I can’t get my pay, then I’ll be sleeping at the station
Dreaming I am home, in bed with you

Late one night I saw the light
In the heart of a cold dark sky
It was something strange that I cannot explain
But I know I’m never gonna be the same

A twenty dollar room, some cheap red wine, I’ll be fine
Smells like bad perfume and cigarettes
I don’t need shiny things to make me feel like I’m a king
What I don’t spend, I’ll send it home to you

Late one night I saw the light
In the heart of a cold dark sky
It was something strange that I cannot explain
But I know I’m never gonna be the same

Studying music therapy I learned that you can lift your mood using music. What? You already knew that? Of course you did. But what you might not know is that to begin the process of mood alteration you should start by choosing music that mirrors your mood. In other words, start with where you are. Next, listen to a song that’s slightly uptempo from the first one, and so on, until you feel better.

However while you’re in that first song place, deep in the mood that laid you low, you might want to consider Rumi’s poem The Guest House.

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and attend them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes, because each guest has been sent as a guide from beyond.

I think The Believers Will be Suspicious welcome their dark thoughts in, and then hang out with them, probably in a dimly lit room. Despite its title, I imagine this song first showed its face in the shadows, in the dark. That’s where the some of the best stories are born.

The Light makes me think of another great song that tells the story of musicians on the road: Wanted Dead or Alive, from Bon Jovi’s 1986 album Slippery When Wet. The Load-Out from Jackson Browne’s 1977 Running on Empty is another good one, although it’s also a tribute to roadies and fans. It would be kind of cool to compile a list of songs like these, the songs about the shows, about the songs, about the way the players feel after they’ve been gigging for a while.

For a lot of musicians, examining their feelings about their careers as performers might be pretty tough. After all, music, live performances . . . as hard as we try to capture them, they are ephemeral creatures.

For me, Robert Mapplethorpe pegged it as he lay dying. Patti Smith’s shares his words in her amazing book Just Kids. She tells how she was standing by Mapplethorpe’s bed and he suddenly looked up and said, “Patti, did art get us?”

Patti Smith writes her thoughts about Mapplethorpe’s words then concludes, “Only a fool would regret being had by art.”

The Guest House translation by Coleman Barks.