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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The Tree

 

JC 2

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. 

 

Believe in Sirens

I believe in a deep earth smell and in the sound of the falling rain

In tripping over my heavy heart

And in getting up again

These are a few of the wonderful lines from I Believe by singer songwriter Denise Moser. Accompanied by a lovely acoustic guitar part and minimal rhythm track that includes a supportive piano, the line is delivered with quiet breath of a chuckle that immediately brings to mind the laughing singspeak of Alanis Morissette. Indeed, I Believe could be an early Alanis song, Alanis on a mellow day.

Denise Moser‘s vocal vibrato gives her a slightly tentative sound, as if she is exploring her voice and her ideas, perhaps for the first time. This doesn’t make her sound inexperienced, instead the slight quaver in her voice gives her performance a freshness, a newness. Her performance of I Believe is restrained—a quality I love—as if the she is hesitant to share her personal list of favorite things. These are the details of her delivery conspire to draw the listener in.

The fact that the lyrics of I Believe are a list of favorite things, brings to mind the Rodgers and Hammerstein song My Favorite Things, one of the greatest songs of all times and one of my personal favorites. I Believe will be forever linked in my mind to My Favorite Things, how cool is that?

I Believe expresses Denise Moser‘s love of nature and family while deftly exposing her love of love as well as her tenderness. Knee deep walks in snow, apologies, weaknesses, dreams; these are all on Denise’s list, which is a list of things literally stated or implied. Her use of strong yet simple images that often comfort make the song poetic, but it is the invisible things she sings about, and the way her slightly tremulous voice gently nudges us until our own emotions step forward  for our examination, that makes the song art.

I Believe in a second chance and in a brand new fresh mistake . . . 

My recommendation is that you listen to I Believe multiple times, because the song gets better with each listen. With every play the song reveals another corner of Denise Moser‘s heart and if you listen long enough to her honest, encouraging voice, you’ll find that your own heart will mostly likely yield some hidden pain or joy. It wasn’t until I’d listened to the song half a dozen times that I found myself in tears.

Let this song break you open and help you discover or rediscover your Dreaming Self. If you’re already living your dream, this song will be a faithful companion.

My wish for this Philadelphia singer songwriter is that she continues to write and share her music, and I’m sure she will, because she believes. I do too.

Click on the cover art by Alisa Lowden Preston to get your own copy of I Believe.

 

I believe in winter boots, and in clean slate snowy days

In knee deep walks through the neighborhood

And in a dried oak fire blaze

I believe in sleeping in, and in grasping at a fading dream

I believe in saying what I mean

I believe in I’m so sorry, and do you know I care

I believe in I can see you there

 

I believe in a deep earth smell and in the sound of the falling rain

In tripping over my heavy heart

And in getting up again

I believe in letting go of those things that I cannot change

I believe in reaching past my range

I believe in it’s my turn, and I’ve waited for too long

I believe in wishing on a song

 

I believe that what makes you you, well it’s the same thing that makes me me

That our differences are more the same

Than we ever would believe

I believe in my own words of in the beauty of today

I believe in brown hair turning gray

I believe in a second chance, and in a brand new fresh mistake

I believe in giving what I take

 

I believe I’m a daddy’s girl, and I’ve always had a broken heart

I’ve tried to find my way back home

And it’s never been that far

I believe in tenderness, and being kind in love

I believe the dreams that I dream of

I believe in magic stones and in taking off my shoes

Do you know – I believe in you…



Do Sirens Wear Sensible Shoes?

I love this lyric:

Moving Day, I tore up your picture and packed the frame.

Check out Moving Day by Sensible Shoes.

Catch Sensible Shoes tonight at the Orchard House Cafe, NYC.

Read my earlier blog to learn more about the Vermont based band Sensible Shoes the group film director Jonathan Demme says, “Rules the blues news!”

Click on the poster to connect with Sensible Shoes on fb.


Listen to the title Track of Jennifer Haase’s New CD!

Did you ever get the feeling that you’ve disappointed so many people, you’ll never be invited anywhere ever again?

That’s the idea behind the upbeat title track of Jennifer Haase‘s brand new folk-pop album No More Invitations.

I’m listening now, and actually, I bet she has an inbox crammed full of invites.

Jennifer Haase, a New York City singer songwriter originally from Nebraska, is a Siren with a “Jewel-Meets-Mary Chapin Carpenter” sound. She was thoughtful enough to include lyrics when she uploaded No More Invitations to the Sirenstories SoundCloud.

Heard you’ve got a chip that’s the size of your head
Sittin’ on your neck speaking for you instead
All the clucking hens at your Aunt’s house for tea
Say you’ve lost some friends in your family tree

There’ll be no more invitations
There’ll be no more invitations

Heard you’ve got a thing for someone else’s man
Word is you’ve been seen leaving notes on his van
All the busy bees at the watering hole
Say they’d like to see that big chip of yours roll

There’ll be no more invitations
There’ll be no more invitations

What’s the matter, baby?
Don’t like sleeping in the bed you made?
Now, baby, better save some cake for your birthday
Can’t have it all, can’t get your way
How dare you be a girl with much to say

Heard you tend to dress so outrageous it’s sad
Seems you’re the distress on the face of your dad
Rumors going ’round you’ve been dropped from the list
Girl, give up the crown ’cause you cease to exist

There’ll be no more invitations
There’ll be no more invitations
There’ll be no more invitations
There’ll be no more invitations

Jennifer Haase — acoustic guitar, vocals
Mike Leslie — bass guitar, vocals
Gary Schreiner — keyboards/string arrangements
Denny McDermott — drums, tamburine, shaker

“Jennifer Haase is a unique and gifted songwriter with the voice of an angel.  I highly recommend her.” — Rosanne Cash

And I issue her an invitation: please send a second song to Sirenstories!

Click on the cover of No More Invitations to learn more about Jennifer Haase and her new CD

Okay, I’m going to stretch out and listen to my brand new copy of No More Invitations now. Try not to envy me too much.

One-Minute Film and Video Festival

Filmmakers definitely count as Sirens—and I don’t even have to go to NYC for this festival!

The third annual FilmOneFest is actually in New Jersey.

And not Asbury Park. Or Red Bank.

On Saturday July 16th Atlantic Highlands will be hosting this incredibly cool event.

I’m going to be there with Juergen Berkessel of Polymash and a bunch of other people with iPads hanging out and talking about iPad apps, including The Crankamacallit, my interactive children’s story app, and the FilmOneFest app, which is gorgeous and free on iTunes.

Click on the iTunes icon below to get your copy, and let me know if you’re going to the festival!

PS If you don’t have an iPad, you can watch the demo reel and get a taste of how cool the FilmOneFest iPad app is, and how great the festival is going to be: