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

 

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. 

 

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 . . .

10173594_849619611718749_691745326319886998_nSome beautiful people . . .

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And a hero or two.

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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.

Push to Start

Starranko

When I heard the opening keyboard arpeggios of Push to Start by Domingos Muekalia Jr. aka Starranko I instantly fell in love with the song. Amazing what a few notes can do. Yep, I was already hooked before The Hook, the lyrical hook, even started.

The vocal has yet another melodic line behind it that I love almost as much as the first one. It’s reminiscent of an old New Order melody. Need I say more?

Eminem’s 8 Mile—the movie and the record—R. Kelly, Kanya West . . . rap artists amaze me. The sheer amount of words they use blows me away, as does the gymnastic phrasing common to so many of their songs.

It’s the subtle phrasing of some of the lyrics in Push to Start that made me want to listen to the song over and over. Just the way Starranko says, “Push to Start”, the slight bend to the words, that little bit of curve—that’s what I love, that’s what’s irresistible to me. And the story behind Push to Start is just as vital. Domingos Muekalia told me,

“The inspiration for the song came over this past summer when I was going to quit making music. But when I went over to Portugal to visit my family I felt this strong connection with music and the country as a whole and felt a rebirth. As I was over there I had the beat with me and began writing lyrics to it and kind of just went from there.”

Starranko I’m so glad you didn’t quit music, and I’m just going to say something to you and all the writers and musicians reading this—

Never give up.

You may need new inspiration, but that’s not hard to find. Just come here. Or look out your window. Or in your journal. Watch a movie.

Whatever it takes. As an encouraging editor once said to me, KEEP GOING.

Domingos Muekalia Jr. was born and raised in Falls Church, VA and says he has “a burning passion for music of all genres, except country—sorry that I’m not sorry about that.” He’s been inspired by Michael Jackson, Kanye West, Nirvana, Jay Z, Tupac, Biggie, Eminiem, and Radiohead. He says he “tries to blend different genres and sounds into a unique style that is all my own.” He succeeds.

So go ahead. Push to start.

We pull up off the lot where that button at?
It’s Push to Start!
Haters talkin shit wanna put a bullet in my heart
We pull up off the lot where that button at?
it’s push to start!
Haters talkin shit, wanna put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
These haters talking shit wanna put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
These haters talking shit
wanna put a bullet in my heart!

Bro I got tenacity coupled by veracity that gave me the audacity to make my own odd ass city
You still with me come and get me, you know life ain’t really fair wanna have a nightmare ight then I’ll take you there
Now you see who I be skinnier B.I.G.
May as well be waldo y’all can’t even find me!
Come try me I’ll lay you down kindly
career need an I.V.
bitch stay hiding
Rap like an M4 or semi automatic
slow down the flow to make this shit more dramatic
Put this on my life i be killin every stanza
you’ll see who’s the boss but I am not tony danza
Yeah I be the man huh?
niggaz know the plan duh
takin over the game so put that in your planner
See so many pigs got me feel in like an angry bird
catapulting to the top with like each and every word
clearing every hurdle
flowing like I’m squirtle
I’m a strain on your brain like a mental girdle
Deck your halls with my balls
I’m join balls to walls
with the beast of music sheets yeah we came from churches falls
paint it black very vivid like a picture
only thing that got more verses is the holy scripture
yeah take a picture swag gin every day just
know I got the most art call me Amadeus

Hook: We pull up off the lot where that button at?
It’s Push to Start!
Haters talkin shit wanna put a bullet in my heart
We pull up off the lot where that button at?
it’s push to start!
Haters talkin shit, wanna put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
These haters talking shit wanna put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
These haters talking shit
wanna put a bullet in my heart!

When I rap like this niggaz cease to exist
but they can find peace in the other haters midst
when I rhyme and rip mothafuckas gonna trip
like they got two feet “that’s some clever shit”
Cuz my thoughts stay full in the spot where we mobbin
pull up on a nigga like he Christopher Robin
No change, I only carry bills
Competition’s alive, I’d rather kill they’re wills
Gawddamn I am who I am
if you don’t like that then run and tell the man
but this is my time nigga welcome to my avenue
wealth and good health are the only things that I accrue
Im just a nigga certified as certifiable
bring the fight to you it dont matter if Im liable
Lord like Tolkien Rings like Jordan
wanna duke it out mothatfucka bring the sword then

Star3
Click the pic to go to find Starranko on iTunes. Thanks.

Little Heart

How cold of you, little heart

How sweet and liquid you tried to deceive

Little Heart is a subtle Valentine. Beautiful in its simplicity, the song grows more poignant and profound with each listen. Topping out at a minute and a half, Little Heart is short. To catch the full meaning of this delicate, minimalist piece, I recommend that you play it over and over, like I did.

An impressionistic wisp of a song, Little Heart consists only of a lead vocal and evocative background vocals, sung in pure tones and whispers. Vocals that sigh with yearning, even as the lyrics scold.

Lisa West, a songwriter from Denton, Texas who records under the name Faerytale, found her inspiration for Little Heart in the writings of Tolkien, and in the idea that, “we tend to be hardest on ourselves”.

How cold of you, little heart

How sweet and liquid you tried to deceive

Did you honestly believe my eyes did not see?

Now backtrack, little heart, now run

Do you honestly believe you run from me?

Try to find those paths by which you came

And be careful, little heart, you are lame

Cold, grey, victim of your own sway

I was not, we were not

Equals, little heart, friendly, kind

My eyes bore into your motive and we both saw

Run, little heart, run

lisawest

Read more about Lisa West on EaRiE. Connect with her fb.

And—

Happy Valentines’s Day from Sirenstories

X♥X

Hold Your Roses Back

roses for blog

SoundCloud, where the Sirenstories SoundCloud lives, is apparently a great place for collaboration. From what I can gather, among other things, it’s like . . . online dating for musicians, or rather, online making.

With Valentine’s Day fluttering towards us on ickle cupid wings, it seems like a good time to post one of the collaborative pieces submitted to the Sirenstories SoundCloud. There have been quite a few uploaded recently.

Roses is a gorgeous song full of yearning, with a guitar track from Telefan and lyrics and vocals by Linde Sagen. 

I’ve listened to Roses over and over for about twenty minutes. There’s something elusive about the song. The form sounds loose, feels organic. The lyrics seem a little loose as well, as far as rhyme, and at times, even reason. And yet . . . I love the lyrics. Love the surprising sentiment of the song: Hold your roses back.

Jim M from Philadelphia, who goes by Telefan, is a guitar player who has collaborated with dozens of artists on SoundCloud. He was the one who uploaded Roses, so I looked him up to find out a bit more about the song, but found only this lovely note: “Linde Sagen created some amazing vocals and lyrics for my music. It was an honor to work with her again.”

I’m sure Linde Sagen would say the same about Telefan. His jazz inspired guitar playing has a beautiful, clean tone. I look forward to listening to more of his collaborations.

Roses

Do you remember our very first night; we were busy chasing green lights
Time was raining on with crazy love, holding hands, dancing with a free mind
And the smell of green grass was never greater

Hold your fancy roses back, don`t buy me with a bunch of fancy crap
Hold the speed of your words, what does it matter now, wrong or right
Hold your roses back, I don`t need them anymore
See whatever that comes around, you’re begging me for more
I said hold your fancy roses back, I said hold your fancy roses back
I don`t need them anymore

Dazzled away by roses, dazzled away by a bunch of fancy roses
It’s hard tonight, imagine what the world would be without you
Just a bunch of fancy roses (those days are over)

Hold your fancy roses back, don`t buy me with a bunch of fancy crap
All I know it’s better than before, all I know his living for the moment
Roses, all I know he`s breathing on me now. This boy never read the weather
All I know he`s breathing on me, don’t you ever stop
I see you holding back the future, I see us falling back to pieces
Hold your fancy roses back
Where does he run to, where does he run to now
I`ll never lay me down in his bed of roses . . . 

Linde Sagen – lyrics, and vocals.
Telefan – guitars, and bass.