Just released in time for Christmas: The Doll Violinist!

THE DOLL VIOLINIST

Author: Mayra Calvani www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com
Illustrations: Amy Cullings Moreno
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-61633-185-6; 1616331852
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-61633-186-3; 1616331860
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61633-187-0; 1616331879
For ages 3-7

Five days before Christmas, Emma is captivated by a doll in a shop window. Each day, she sneaks out of the orphanage to check if it’s been sold, but the shop owner, Madame Dubois, sends her away. Will the magic of Christmas bring Emma, Madame Dubois, and the doll violinist together?

ABC’s Children’s Picture Book Finalist!
Honorable Mention Award in the 75th Annual Writers Digest Writing Competition!

Purchase from Guardian Angel Publishing or Amazon.

Interview with Liesel Soley, author of Can You Be an Artist?

Liesel Soley, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music and Fulbright scholar in Paris, France, is a professional violinist. Soley has performed solo recitals in the U.S. and France and was the violinist in the piano trio, Trio Viva. She has taught violin at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and violin and viola at St. Petersburg College and the Pinellas County Center for the Arts in St.Petersburg, Florida.

Presently, Liesel Soley shares her love for music with children, as well as adults in Clearwater, Florida where she teaches violin, viola, and chamber music privately and in an after-school program at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg.

Soley has found a welcome relief from the very disciplined, intensive, and time-consuming work with the violin in her other artistic means of expression; writing, painting and drawing.

Congratulations on the publication of your children’s book, Can You Be an Artist? What got you into writing?

My first writing was when I was in Paris on a Fulbright Grant. I was struggling with the violin and life, and one day when it was very difficult to approach the violin, I just started to write some poetry with no expectations or standards to meet. This took place over a period of about two weeks. It was a kind of a relief and my morale went way up. The poems remained in my violin case for 44 years! I couldn’t quite throw them away.

Then several years ago my family requested I send them personal things I had created which resulted in putting together CDs of some of my solo violin and piano trio performances, a book of my paintings, and Yes! – those poems mentioned above along with some very short stories I wrote up about playing violin in the streets which I had been telling for years! Yes, even though I am a Juilliard graduate, I have hit the streets and had some interesting and fun experiences in the streets of New York, London, and Paris! Some of my friends look aghast at some of the things I do. I just laugh!

So, this brings me to the children’s book I just completed. During the summer some of my students disappear, going to camps and on vacation, so it was either do something creative or sit around and mope because of a lack of work.
“Can YOU Be an Artist?” came into being!

What was your inspiration for Can You Be an Artist?

Working with my violin students and seeing total transformations take place, sometimes quickly and sometimes over a period of years.The violin is extremely challenging and it takes tremendous discipline and persistence to play well. To see the confidence, the self-esteem, the growth of students developing as a result of participating in the arts is rewarding and exciting. Taking part in orchestras, recitals, and competitions can give such a sense of accomplishment to these youngsters. Although I have mostly seen this as a musician, I know that students in all the arts tend to excel in other areas as well, such as in school. Individuals who express themselves through the arts, who create, are happier and more successful. I know this with absolute certainty and wanted to express this.

What message you hope readers will get from your book?

As indicated in my authors note, one can create in many ways, “— If one truly creates beauty and quality in what one does and if this translates to others one is actively being an artist.”

Also – Dare To Follow Your Dreams! Dare To Be Yourself! Dare to Be Free!!

Tell us about what your writing process was like for this book. Did you outline it first? Did you edit it as you went along?

The structure, using the three different art forms and the three kids just popped up. I mocked it up very quickly. As I have a number of Korean students I wanted one of the kids to be Korean. Each child was very real to me. Because I was able to be Freddie, or Honey, or Bae it was easy to write their feelings, about their families etc. Using the first person for them seemed very natural.The few word changes or added took place after the writing was done as a whole.

You also illustrated the book. Give us a glimpse into the mind of the author/illustrator persona? Did you write the story first and later illustrate it?

The writing was done first although I had illustrations in mind. There was an original mock-up of the book with far fewer illustrations than in the completed published book. A number of people had commented that there were too few illustrations, too many words per page, that the colors were weak and there were not enough details for kids. I agreed, so the next summer (2010) I decided to handle the things that were not ok and complete the book.

It was very difficult for me. I added 12 more drawings and totally changed all the existing ones except for 2, and even those I had to do all over because the paper was different!

I would lie awake at night mocking up the next illustration – hardly slept for 2 months. I was excited and determined to finish within two months before the school season started. The work was intense. I mocked up the illustrations easily but when it came to the execution of the drawings in terms of enough color it drove me nuts. I would create the drawing rather quickly then invariably at a certain point I would have exactly what I wanted but not enough color and I would stop and move on to the next illustration! I did not have the certainty and courage to do full color right off! I was afraid I would mess up on those tiny little lines or dots or whatever, like with expressions on faces, and that I would have to do the whole picture over again!

O Man, I ended up going over these illustrations three times – the entire picture 3 times – each time adding another layer of color, each time in more agony than the previous time! It was awful! I was an idiot!

I am laughing at the whole experience. Not being trained in painting, drawing, or illustrating, this was more than a learning experience! It was literally painful! I was doing these drawings leaning over the dining room table with a lot of weight on my left arm and hand pressing down on the table while I meticulously (and gingerly!) proceeded to work with my right hand. A little before the end of the 2 months I felt like a cripple! I could not play the violin for over 2 weeks! Next time it is full color on the first shot!!! and with a decent set up!

What made you decide to publish your book with Book Publishers Network?

I had used a POD place for the book of my paintings and although I was very happy with the results it was a lot of keeping at it to get exactly what I wanted. For my book with the poems and short stories about playing in the streets I used Apple. It was nice – but expensive.

I wanted a publisher that had a team of experts, someone with whom I could communicate easily and someone who would get the job done quickly. Sheryn Hara with Book publishers Network had been recommended by an author/illustrator acquaintance as being very good for first time authors with plenty of experience and expertise and she really cared for her authors. She sent me samples of children’s books which I really liked. She was exactly what I wanted. She was hooked up with a fine printer so my book was completed!

Also, I wanted a wider audience for this book- not just family and friends.

What was the publishing process like?

Things moved along very well. Sometimes there would be suggestions but my needs and wants as an artist were totally respected. It was suggested I use some kind of border around the pictures and a number were shown to me but I really did not want that and that was totally accepted. I groaned when Sheryn Hara said the cover of the book which I had done needed to be jazzed up. I told her I did not want anyone else doing any of the art work. She immediately said none of the art work would be disturbed – just the background would be made more alive. I was sent a number of possibilities and love the one I chose. I find it very aesthetic and am glad my publisher pushed me in that respect.

I was glad not one word of my writing was changed. There would have been a fight if changes had been wanted. Punctuation had to be handled! No problem! Book Publishers Network is hooked up with a fine printer and the book was completed!

What is your schedule like? How do you balance your violinist, music instructor, artist, and writer personas?

At this time in my life I am primarily teaching violin, viola and chamber music, but my involvement in my other arts has increased considerably! I teach privately at my home 7 days a week and 3 afternoons in an after school program at Shorecrest . There are music teachers meetings to attend, and recitals and competitions to arrange. Add to that violin presentations and now book signings and work on PR. I also have arranged to have some of my young students perform at book stores and libraries where I have book signings. Things are busy! The short answer to your question is – I am very focused on what I am doing at any given moment, and I work hard 7 days a week. I thrive on lots of fast action!

Do you have tips for unleashing and nurturing one’s creativity?

Sure – find something you have really wanted to do and START! Be true to yourself, maintain your integrity and do not let others throw you. Go at your own pace, keep it light and have FUN! If it is not always fun -well, so what!

Are you working on another book? What’s on the horizon for you?

Not at the moment, but I have a couple in mind. I am not setting a timetable. I have a way of doing things spontaneously at the right time for me. The future looks interesting, challenging and fun. And there are definitely unknowns! I like it that way.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers?

Yes, I would love to hear from you – to know if my book has inspired you or your children or your grandchildren. Also, I would be delighted to have you visit my web site and be in communication with me.

Meet Violinist & Author Gerald Elias

Gerald Elias is author of the award-winning Daniel Jacobus mystery series, published by St. Martin’s Press. Elias brings over thirty-five years as an internationally recognized concert violinist, conductor, composer, and teacher to his novels that take place in the murky recesses of the classical music world. He draws upon his intimate familiarity with the unseen drama behind the curtain to shed an eerie light on the deceptively staid world of the concert stage. A native New Yorker, Elias now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, and West Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Congrats on the release of Death and the Maiden, the third instalment in your violinist mystery series. What was your inspiration for this particular story?

If you’ve ever played in a string quartet, you’ll know it doesn’t take very long before everyone wants to kill each other. That makes it slam dunk material for the setting of a murder mystery. Then, given that the titles of my books are also the names of classical music pieces having to do with death, I would have been a knucklehead to overlook Schubert’s masterpiece, the Quartet in D Minor, Death and the Maiden. He transcribed the music for the quartet from a song he composed, in which a young woman struggles against the figure of Death, who has come to take her with him to the beyond. The maiden, of course, is anguished, but Death tries to convince her that he is there to provide comfort. In a way, he’s almost like a lover. The story in my book was inspired by that encounter.

Are you a fan of Agatha Christie?

Not only dear Aunt Agatha, but many of the other English mystery writers as well: Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Dick Francis, John LeCarre, and of course the grand-daddy of them all, Mr. Conan Doyle.

Tell us about your amateur sleuth protagonist, Daniel Jacobus. I hear he’s quite a character. How did he come to be how he is?

Daniel Jacobus has about as flinty an exterior as one can imagine, but deep down inside he has a heart of pure gold…maybe. As a young man his career as a concert violinist started with great promise, but with the onset of blindness he became increasingly reclusive, embittered not with music itself, but with the professional world around which it is created. Now, in his old age, he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to solve mysteries in the very world that he shunned.

Having been a concert musician for most of my life, I’ve taken the frustrations that most of us in my profession have do deal with, in which compromises to musical integrity are sometimes imposed upon us, and have consolidated those vexations into the persona of Jacobus to an inordinately bitchy level. The reason I’ve made him blind is two-fold: first, by being blind his other senses, especially hearing, are extraordinarily enhanced, enabling him to solve mysteries that those with sight cannot; and second, in an almost metaphorical sense, by being blind, he perceives music the way it should be—with his ears—and isn’t distracted by the superficial ostentation.

How long did it take you to write the novel? Did you plot it in advance?

In a way, writing is like playing a musical instrument—they are crafts that need to be learned in a disciplined way, and that takes time. Once one reaches a certain level, the understanding of the craft becomes ingrained, though the artistry, fortunately, always remains a wonderful challenge, full of surprises, and needs to be constantly honed.

With Devil’s Trill, it took ten years from the time I first put pen to paper until it finally found its way into print. I could write a thriller based just upon that saga! Danse Macabre took a year and a half. Death and the Maiden took a year. That’s about as fast as I want things to be because not only do I want to make sure I maintain the quality of the books, I want them to get even better.

The general plot for Death and the Maiden came quickly enough. The idea of each member of a string quartet mysteriously vanishing was the easy part. (That idea, no doubt, has entered the mind of most musicians who have ever played string quartets over the past three hundred years.) Deciding upon the means and the chronology was a challenge, because once one or two members disappear, how do you keep the quartet going so that the remaining members have the opportunity to be offed as well?

How do you go about plotting your mysteries? Do you do a chapter by chapter outline?

I start out with the overall concept, and from there try to visualize a basic story line that would strongly support the concept and grab the reader’s imagination. Then I decide how I’d like to begin and end the story, gradually creating a straight line between the two. That doesn’t necessarily mean the chapters progress chronologically, because sometimes it creates more suspense to jump forward or backward in time, but I need to have an orderly progression in my head or else my brain can get hopelessly addled. Once I have that I add intersecting lines of plot and new characters that have organically sprouted up from the main story line. Finally, of course, I have to figure out how Jacobus is going to solve the mystery!

With my fourth book, Death and Transfiguration, that I’m working on now, I’ve taken to writing a brief summary at the beginning of each chapter, a service a lot of the English writers used to provide their readers back in the nineteenth century (“In which Jonathan is thrown from his Horse and discovers, quite by Accident, a fair Maiden”), but for me it’s simply a way to expedite my writing process and will be deleted in the final product.

What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your teaching and music career?

I’d love to have a regular writing schedule—to sit down from seven to eleven every morning with a cup of coffee and write, gazing out the window from time to time for inspiration. But neither my life nor my brain works that way. For one, I’m always juggling music projects with writing projects, and there are times when I’ll have an idea for a book (not necessarily the book I’m currently working on) while driving or at a rehearsal or concert. On those occasions I’ll keep the idea—which might be as little as a single line of text—in my head until the first opportunity to write something down so that I can remember the idea. Then as soon as I get home, whenever that might be, I’ll write it out in full. I have lots of little pieces of paper on my desk.

One big change for me is that in May, after more than thirty-five years of playing in symphony orchestras, I retired from my position as associate concertmaster of the Utah Symphony. This will give me a lot more freedom not only to write but also to concertize on my own.

Do you have any events coming up in the near future?

I recently returned from a two-week trip to Ecuador, where I conducted the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Ecuador, did some performing on the violin, and gave master classes to groups of young string players. It was a gratifying concert tour in all ways, and I even had a chance to do a concert/book event for my first two books, Devil’s Trill and Danse Macabre, at the American Embassy in Quito.

This summer I’ll be performing with the Boston Symphony at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts (home to Daniel Jacobus). At the end of the summer I’ll be driving back to Salt Lake City for a book tour, the specific events for which are just now being finalized. I greatly enjoy those book events because in addition to the usual Q&A I play excerpts on my violin of some of the significant music talked about in the books.

Do you have a website and/or blog?

My website is www.geraldelias.com. One of the special features I’d like to mention about the site is in response to many readers who wished there was a CD to go with each book. I think the solution we’ve come up with is even better. If you go to the website, there’s a page called Music To Die For. On this page you can click on any of the important pieces talked about in the books and listen to a live performance I’ve given over the years. So it’s free, it’s easy, you can’t break or lose it, and you can listen to music from all the books.

Where is Death and the Maiden available?

Death and the Maiden will be on the bookshelves August 16. It can be purchased at any bookstore or online, and can be found at local libraries as well. If you don’t see it, ask for it!

Is there a fourth book in the horizon?

I mentioned I’m working on Death and Transfiguration. This is the title of one of Richard Strauss’s greatest orchestral tone poems, about a dying man’s physical and emotional struggle for redemption, and his glorious vision of the hereafter when he dies. Strauss composed the music as a young man, and—never one to be called modest—as an old man on his deathbed he said to his daughter-in-law, “You know, death really is a lot like the way I composed it in Death and Transfiguration.”

My story is about a world-famous, tyrannical conductor named Vaclav Herza, who just about everyone would like to kill, but the great maestro always seems to have the upper hand—until he meets Daniel Jacobus, that is.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to my readers?

Since my first book, Devil’s Trill, came out two years ago I’ve received a lot of mail from readers who often have flattering comments to make about the books, but who also occasionally provide some choice, piquant criticism. I welcome both kinds of responses equally (well, maybe not quite equally) because while I like to hear I’m making most people happy, it’s good to be kept on my toes!

Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s The Four Seasons series

Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s stories and novels reflect her national pride. Emily-Jane began her writing career writing book reviews. She is currently a regular book reviewer for allbookreviews.com and her reviews appear on many other online sites as well as book jackets. Emily-Jane teaches creative writing to young people and regularly gives presentations in local schools and senior’s residences. Other writing accomplishments include articles in the 2005 and 2010 edition of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, as well as several books, Spring (PublishAmerica 2005), Summer (Baico 2007), Autumn (Baico 2009), Ukulele Yukon (Baico 2006), Letters From Inside: The Notes and Nuggets of Margaret Marsh (Baico 2006), It Happened in Canada (Baico 2007), It Happened in Canada Book 2 (Baico, 2010), Songs of the Voyageurs (Baico, 2010), The Creative Spirit (Baico 2008), Beyond the Ordinary (Baico 2008), Beyond the Ordinary…And More (Baico 2008) and Personal Notes (Moosehide Books 2008). Emily-Jane’s book, The Whistling Bishop (Baico 2008), was named Finalist in the 2009 Indie Book Awards. This award-winning author believes in writing about Canada; but she also believes in writing about extra-ordinary people – the real people who made our country a great nation. The author may be reached by email at: ejomusic@sympatico.ca; or by mail at: 11 Stradwick Ave., Nepean, Ontario K2J 2X3. Or, check her website at: www3.sympatico.ca/mistymo

THE FOUR SEASONS SERIES


Spring
PublishAmerica: 2005
ISBN: 1-4137-7615-9
Price: $25.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author: ejhomusic@gmail.com
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/)
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eq4X1r8rYR4

Synopsis:

In 1725, Antonio Vivaldi wrote the music for The Four Seasons. He penned a poem for each of the four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. Each season has its reason, its significance, its purpose, its own symbolism. Life is like the four seasons. Spring is Melanie Harris’s story. She is a talented young violinist with a valuable Grancino violin. There is a secret inside her violin, a secret only she and her mother should know; but somehow others have found out. The story follows a journey of Melanie’s growth as a musician, the people she meets, the friends she makes, the losses she suffers. Vivaldi’s music is the cornerstone of Melanie’s musical career as well as her life as she takes her instrument and her music around the world. Each stage of Melanie’s life progresses like a season of the year, a musical/poetic symbol as in Vivaldi’s music. Melanie is the music she loves best, The Four Seasons.

Summer
Baico: 2007
ISBN: 978-1-897449-02-8
Price: $22.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author: ejhomusic@gmail.com
Chapters (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/)
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-OtAO7IYQk

Synopsis:

In 1725, Antonio Vivaldi wrote the music for The Four Seasons. He penned a poem for each of the four seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. Each season has its reason, its significance, its purpose, its own symbolism. Life is like the four seasons. Summer is but one of the seasons of the year; one of the seasons of Vivaldi’s masterpiece The Four Seasons. Summer is the story of Hope Jones, a young Gitxsan fiddler from northern British Columbia, Canada. Hope has a rare musical talent and what everyone believes is a very valuable Stradivarius violin. Is it the mysterious missing ‘Juliet’? As Hope grows and matures in her music, she learns more about her violin, the romance and mystery that surrounds it and the very dangerous family that continually threatens her in their attempts to claim it. Hope’s life follows the four seasons of Vivaldi’s music, much like life unfolds through the seasons. Summer is but one story in Vivaldi’s musical journey. Summer is the sequel to the popular novel, Spring published by PublishAmerica (2006).

Autumn
Baico: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-926596-42-6
Price: $24.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author: ejhomusic@gmail.com
Chapters (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/)
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m08Ah35QyL0

Synopsis:

Martha Kapakatoak is a young Inuit girl with a passion for music. She has a talent and an instrument that was passed down to her by her ancestors. She is a self-taught pianist because in Iqaluit, the capital city of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut, there are no piano teachers. In fact, her piano is the only real acoustic piano in the entire community and it is sadly in need of repair and a good tuning. A square piano, the instrument was brought over to Canada’s Far North in the mid-1800s, and dragged across the tundra on a dogsled. It is the family’s most treasured heirloom, and one of the music world’s greatest unsolved mysteries. Autumn is Martha’s story, a story that takes music from the concert hall to the vacant spaces of the northern tundra. It is a story that interweaves with the other stories from The Four Seasons series and its characters. Melanie Harris, the famous violinist from Spring (PublishAmerica, 2005), the first book in The Four Seasons series, and Hope Jones, the Gitxsan fiddler-turned-classical violinist from Summer (Baico, 2008), the second book in The Four Seasons series, join Martha in an adventure of music and mystery and a race to discover the piano’s true history before someone else gets hurt. Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s Autumn is the third book in The Four Seasons series. It follows rave reviews of the first two books, which were described as having “a classic charm” (Strings May 2008) with a plot that “grows on you with its deepening chords and situations” (Writer’s Digest 2009).

COMING SOON:

The Fourth and Final book of The Four Seasons series:

Winter

“Winter”, is not Adina’s nor Alon’s story; but rather a story that haunts the next generation, Adina’s son, Joseph. The novel follows a mystery that surrounds a priceless cello, one that will inevitably lead Joseph from the spotlight as a brilliant cellist through the depths of despair as he struggles with substance abuse following a horrific accident that almost costs him his life. The mystery digs deep into Joseph’s ancestral past to reveal an unresolved tragedy from a previous century that continues to haunt the instrument and the man who plays it. This mystery will reveal facts that had gone undisclosed since the incarceration of the Jews of Paris and someone once thought lost is found again. “Winter” follows in the popular tradition of my previous three novels, “Spring”, “Summer” and “Autumn”, intertwining the characters from the earlier novels as the characters struggle to solve each other’s mysteries.

Website: http://www3.sympatico.ca/mistymo/
Blog: http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1312163572

Frederico, the Mouse Violinist book trailer

Interview with Kathi Baron, author of SHATTERED

What was your inspiration for Shattered?

In the past, as an occupational therapist, I worked with teens who have experienced horrific abuse. As they each worked to heal, it was inspiring to witness their transformations. I wanted to do a novel to honor their resiliency.

Why the violin and not something else? What about this instrument got your attention?

I started really liking the violin when I discovered the Dixie Chicks. I enjoy all the different ways Martie Maquire uses her violin within their different songs. I’m especially attracted to the versatility of this instrument and enjoy hearing and seeing it played classically as well as alternatively. Plus, I love the way it looks. I thought it would be interesting and fun to write about a teen violinist and it was a wonderful experience to get to enter a musician’s world via the writing of Shattered.

Tell us three words that describe your protagonist.

Cassie is passionate, gifted, and resilient.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this novel? Did you have to do a lot of research about violin playing?

The most challenging part of writing this novel was trying to figure out a structure for it. Since it’s about intergenerational child abuse, it’s Cassie’s story, her dad’s story, and also, her grandfather’s story. It was difficult for me to write it so the reader could experience it as Cassie’s story, but also learn about her father and grandfather. I wrote it in several formats and it wasn’t “nailed down” until I received guidance from my publisher, Evelyn Fazio.

I did do a lot of research about the violin which was my favorite part of writing this book. I knew absolutely nothing about the violin and had to start very basic, like learning the names of its parts. Very early on, I realized I wouldn’t be able to write this story unless I had a violinist to consult. I got very lucky when Jenny Cappelli of the Cappelli Institute agreed to help me. She’s a violinist and teacher of performers in the Chicago Youth Symphony and allowed me to email her any and all questions. She invited me to observe a lesson with one of her students and I took a lot of notes. I also visited a violin workshop at Kagan and Gaines Music Store to see the many ways a violin can break. (That was a sad day). The owner, Joseph Kali researched and chose the Carlo Bergonzi violin for Cassie. I also read a lot of bios of violinists on their websites and listened to a lot of different kinds of violin music. I attended a Chicago Youth Symphony concert and swear I saw Cassie on stage! I read Violin Dreams by Arnold Steinhardt and The Soloist by Mark Salzman, as well as a lot of issues of Strings magazine.

What is your writing schedule like?

Currently, I work part-time in an outpatient behavioral health program for adults. I’m there Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. So I view Wednesday and Friday as my work days as well, except that I’m working at my writing. I try to journal every day to keep my mind in practice. On my “writing days,” I tend to work for 6-8 hours on these days. I’m not always writing though. Sometimes I’m researching, or interviewing a consultant, or reading craft or fictions books to support the work. I have been known to steal away to a hotel for a weekend so that I can totally immerse myself in the process. It allows me to get some momentum going or to do the real detailed parts of a novel that require intense focus/freedom from interruptions.

Please share with my readers a bit about your road to publication. How did you find WestSide Books?

My journey to this book took 13 years. Before Shattered, I wrote 2 novels, 5 short stories, 2 picture book manuscripts, many, many poems and a non-fiction essay. I’ve submitted all of these pieces to publishers, contests and literary journals over the years. None of them have been accepted for publication. However, each piece offered me opportunities to learn about pacing, page turning, plot, point of view, tense and dialogue.

After the 2 novels were rejected, I decided to attend the Vermont College MFA Writing for Children and Young Adults program. During the 2 years that I was there, I focused on writing Shattered. After graduation, I revised it and submitted it to 15 publishers and received rejections from all of them.

My classmate, Angela Morrison, had also written a novel that didn’t sell either. She invited me to join her in revising and so over the course of 6 months, we swapped manuscripts each month until we completed a new version of our novels. Around this time, WestSide Books sent a letter to Vermont College inviting alumni to submit young adult novels. From the description of the type of novels they were looking for, Shattered was a good fit. I almost didn’t submit it though because I didn’t want to deal with rejection. Angela encouraged me to send it and I did. Within a few months, an offer came from WestSide and within three weeks, Angela sold her novel, Taken by Storm, to Razorbill. It has been a pure thrill to see both of our books on shelves in bookstores!

What is your greatest challenge as an author?

My greatest challenge is choosing which details or scenes to use. As an occupational therapist, I’m a trained observer. In a therapeutic process, I never know which detail or situation that a patient shares with me will have meaning to the future process, so I tend to absorb as much as I can about a person as I work with them. This gets in my way as a writer, making it difficult for me to figure out which things are relevant to character development, scene creation, or the overall plot. So initially, I tend write a lot of words and eventually, I end up doing a lot of deleting.

What is the single most important tip of advice you’d give new writers?

Focus your energy on developing your craft—on doing your best work—and not on getting published.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

“Focus on doing your best work and not on getting published.”

What’s next for Kathi Baron?

I’m currently working on a young adult novel that I’m hoping to submit to WestSide Books in a few months (after I figure out what to delete!)

Latest reviews of Frederico, the Mouse Violinist

Frederico, the Mouse Violinist is an absolutely wonderful children’s picture book. Through a delightful story, the author teaches about the world’s most famous violin maker, Antonio Stradivari, along with various parts of the violin.

But, what has a mouse to do with Stradivari and violins? Well, Calvani cleverly weaved a story that has Frederico living in the home where Stradivari creates his masterpieces.

Loving the violin, the mouse wished he could play. At night while the master slept, Frederico would play among the violins and move the bow across the strings, making sweet sounds. Hearing the music and seeing Frederico’s appreciation for the violin, Stradivari created a special tiny violin for the mouse.

Adding dimension to the story are full page illustrations that are vibrant and fanciful, making Frederico, the Mouse Violinist an engaging, kids-will-love-it picture book. The book also provides information on Stradivari; a glossary for words related to the violin, such as bridge, peg, and scroll; and two activity pages. It is an enjoyable and fun tool that parents and teachers can use to introduce the violin to young children.

I happen to love the sound of the violin, cello, and other stringed instruments. My appreciation for music came from my musical family, as well as school music education programs. In 7th and 8th grades my school offered violin instruction which I happily accepted.

Research from the 1950s through to today, demonstrates the benefits music has for children and even societies. Here are some of the benefits children can reap from music education:

Increases memorization capacity
Improves reasoning capacity and comprehension
Helps children learn and/or improve time management and organizational skills
Helps develop team skills, as well as math skills
Helps improve coordination and concentration
Is a universal language and encourages self-expression

Aside from the above mentioned benefits, you never know what will spark a child’s appreciation and love for music, it could be hearing a song, seeing musicians play, or learning about various instruments and their creation.

–Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and freelance writer. For writing and marketing information visit KarenCioffi.com, and sign up for her free newsletter: A Writer’s World. You’ll get 2 free e-books on writing and marketing in the process, and two more free e-books just for stopping by.

*****

Do you know any curious, young, music lovers? If so, introduce them to “Frederico, the Mouse Violinist.”

Mayra Calvani combines the curiosity and playfulness of Frederico the mouse with the history and genius of Antonio Stradivari, the famous violin maker, to tell a delightful story of kindness and friendship. Children will learn music vocabulary and the parts of the violin as they follow Frederico’s nightly escapades.

Curious Frederico peeked into the f-hole and looked inside the violin.
“This is the secret, magical place where sound comes out!” he squeaked.

The realistic, yet whimsical, illustrations by K. C. Snider add to the fun. The surprise ending of “Frederico the Mouse Violinist” will fill your heart with “warm fuzzies.” It may just inspire you to follow your dreams.

As a retired teacher, I would recommend this book as a fantastic way to introduce stringed instruments into the classroom. A biography of Stradivari and his accomplishments are included in the back of the book. The activity pages will reinforce the new vocabulary introduced in the book as well.

–Kathy Stemke, Education Tipster

*****

Do you have a budding violinist on your hands? Then he or she will definitely enjoy Frederico, the Mouse Violinist by Mayra Calvani.

Frederico is a little mouse with a big name. He lives in the workshop of a famous violin maker named Antonio Stradivari. During the day, the mouse watches Stradivari make his celebrated violins, but at night, Frederico explores the workshop and its wonders. But it’s the violins that capture Frederico’s attention the most. Frederico longs to play, but since he’s so little and the violin and bow are so big, playing seems an impossible task. However, the determined mouse practices night after night and when he captures the attention of the famous violin maker, the mouse violinist has a mouse-sized present in store for him!

This is an endearing tale that will introduce young readers to the classic string instrument. Not only is the tale inspirational, but it’s educational as well, introducing young virtuosos to the parts of a violin and the famous luthier, Antonio Stradivari. As Frederico learns that if you tighten a peg on a violin, the pitch will be higher and if you loosen it, the pitch will be lower, so will your own virtuoso. And just as Frederico learns that with a little passion and practice, he can play, Frederico will inspire anyone to strum their own tune to this delightful story.

–Lori Calabrese, National Children’s Book Examiner

*****

What an unexpected source of delight this picture book is. This sweet story is about a young mouse who lives in the workshop of the most famous violin maker of all. With tender wording and sensitive illustrations, we see how the master violin maker makes yet someone else’s life change as a result of his musical genius and creativity. This is storytelling at its best.

Every violin student and every violin teacher will treasure this book for its precious story about Frederico, the mouse, as he follows his dreams. Yet behind the tender story is an excellent explanation of the parts of a violin as well as a peek into the life of violin virtuoso Stradivari. The fantastic illustrations add a sense of wonder and delight to the telling, bringing the story to life.

I highly recommend this book for every child whether a violin student or not. Their heartstrings will be tugged and they will yearn to hold a violin in their hands and play it themselves. This is also a great classroom book for teachers to read to students during those young formative years when they are choosing whether or not to play an instrument.

Truly a new classic in picture books!

–Nancy I. Sanders, children’s author

*****

“Frederico, the Mouse Violinist”
Author: Mayra Calvani
Illustrator: K.C. Snider
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing

http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/

Hardcover: 978-1-61633-113-9
Paperback: 987-1-61633-114-6
EBook 13: 978-61633-125-2
Copyright 2010
Picture Book: 26 pages

Purchase from Amazon.
Purchase from Guardian Angel Publishing.

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