Posts Tagged ‘violin fiction’

Just released in time for Christmas: The Doll Violinist!


Author: Mayra Calvani
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.


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 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:; or by mail at: 11 Stradwick Ave., Nepean, Ontario K2J 2X3. Or, check her website at:


PublishAmerica: 2005
ISBN: 1-4137-7615-9
Price: $25.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters (
Book Trailer:


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.

Baico: 2007
ISBN: 978-1-897449-02-8
Price: $22.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author:
Chapters (
Book Trailer:


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).

Baico: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-926596-42-6
Price: $24.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author:
Chapters (
Book Trailer:


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).


The Fourth and Final book of The Four Seasons series:


“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.


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!)

Review of GOOD ENOUGH, by Paula Yoo

Book Description

How to make your Korean parents happy:

1. Get a perfect score on the SATs.
2. Get into HarvardYalePrinceton.
3. Don’t talk to boys.*

Patti’s parents expect nothing less than the best from their Korean-American daughter. Everything she does affects her chances of getting into an Ivy League school. So winning assistant concertmaster in her All-State violin competition and earning less than 2300 on her SATs is simply not good enough.

But Patti’s discovering that there’s more to life than the Ivy League. To start with, there’s Cute Trumpet Guy. He’s funny, he’s talented, and he looks exactly like the lead singer of Patti’s favorite band. Then, of course, there’s her love of the violin. Not to mention cool rock concerts. And anyway, what if Patti doesn’t want to go to HarvardYalePrinceton after all?

Paula Yoo scores big in her hilarious debut novel about an overachiever who longs to fit in and strives to stand out. The pressure is on!

*Boys will distract you from your studies.

My review:

GOOD ENOUGH is about a brilliant Korean-American teenaged girl who has a dilemma: should she attend an Ivy League school and pursue a career in law or medicine–as her strict and ambitious parents want her to do–or should she follow her heart and go for what she loves most, playing the violin. This last choice may not bring her much money or success, but it may bring her joy. So the novel has an universal theme: Money and status doesn’t necessarily define success and happiness.

The story begins when Patti is in her senior year of high school. She’s in the process of applying to universities and preparing for her college entrance exams, all the while trying to keep up with her demanding classes and position as the second violinist in the All-State orchestra. Her parents only add to her stress. Though it’s clear they love her, they push her to the extreme, afraid she won’t ‘make it’–and to them, the only way to ‘make it’ is to be admitted to Harvard, Yale or Princeton.

Then she becomes infatuated with a boy at school. Though she’s enough focused on her work not to be too distracted by him, their friendship sends her parents into utter panic, especially when she escapes Sunday church club to play in his rock band!

Finally Patti has to make a decision: will she live her life or the life her parents want her to live for them? Will she choose happiness over money and status?

I enjoyed reading this young adult novel so much, I finished it in two days. Not only because the protagonist is a violinist, but because of the way the author brings her to life with all her struggles and dilemmas and also because the writing is, put simply, very good.

The writing is clever, witty, yet emotional and sensitive at the same time. I laughed out loud many times. The protagonist comes across as a genuine person. I’m not not surprised, since in my previous interview with the author she mentions that the story is based on her own life growing up. Another great aspect of this book is that all references about music and violin playing are so real. When the author is a violinist herself, that makes all the difference. The prose shines with authenticity.

GOOD ENOUGH is a light, fun read–but it also has the substance of a serious work of fiction. Perhaps this is what impressed me most about this book.

Violinist of all ages will surely enjoy Patti’s story. Highly recommended!

Purchase the book HERE.

Interview with Susanne Dunlap, author of The Musician’s Daughter

It is my pleasure to have as my guest today writer Susanna Dunlap. A native of Buffalo, NY, Dunlap is the author of The Musician’s Daughter and several other music-related novels for adults and young adults. In this interview the author talks about her life, her inspiration for The Musician’s Daughter, and writing and publishing, among other things.

Thanks for this interview, Susanne! Please tell us a little about your background in music.

When I was 3 or 4 and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “Mozart”, I think mainly because I had a wonderful children’s book, Mozart the Wonder Boy. And my mother played the piano, my father loved opera and would play records on weekends.

I started playing the piano at the age of five, and got very serious about it. I went to Smith and majored in music, doing a lot of performing. 13 years after I graduated from Smith I went back to do an MA in musicology, then on to Yale for a PhD in music history. I loved those years. I loved researching in libraries in Europe and touching manuscripts by Handel, Traetta, Salieri and many others.

From music studies, to writing… How did that come about and what was your inspiration for The Musician’s Daugher?

After I finished my studies, circumstances combined to make it difficult for me to get a job teaching. But I had all this wealth of knowledge and a true passion for the stories hidden in the places research couldn’t take you. Plus, I’d been writing all my life anyway—poetry, bad novels, advertising copy (day job).

The Musician’s Daughter, like all my books, came from a “What if?” question. What if a young girl wanted desperately to be a professional musician, but her circumstances or the times wouldn’t permit it? And then, I love a good mystery. Plus I’ve been to Vienna more than once for research purposes, and I loved the idea of setting a novel there.

I understand this story is very close to your heart. What is the novel about?

It’s about a young girl whose father, a violinist in Haydn’s orchestra for Prince Esterhazy, is murdered on Christmas Eve. His valuable violin is missing, and he’s wearing a mysterious medallion Theresa (the heroine) has never seen before. With her mother about to give birth and indisposed, Theresa decides she must solve the mystery of her father’s murder, and in the process is able to pursue her music—and find the beginnings of true love.

You may wonder, why a violinist? I have a very good friend who is one of the finest Baroque violinists in the world, now doing a lot of conducting with her own orchestra: Elizabeth Wallfisch. I thought of her a lot when I was writing this—and my old friend Peter Oundjian!

Did you plot in advance?

I always have a sense of where the book is going, but I hate writing to outlines. I let my characters take their twists and turns, and then nudge everything into place and tie up loose ends in the editing process.

How long did it take you to write the book?

That’s a difficult question to answer. Writing the first draft doesn’t always take a lot of time. This one I think took about six weeks. But I worked on it, editing and honing it, for months after that—and that was before the editing process that begins with the publishing house.

How was your schedule like while writing the novel? Do you have another job besides writing?

Yes, I do have another job, as an Associate Creative Director at a small advertising agency in Manhattan. It’s very demanding, so I write whenever I can in my spare time: on the subway, at home in the morning, on weekends.

How was the publishing process like? Did you search for an agent first?

First, you have to write a book! I’ve been with my agent since 2003, when he started working on my first adult book, Emilie’s Voice, which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2005. I would say that anyone looking to be published needs to write the best book they can, get good feedback, and get it as near to perfect as possible, then start looking for an agent. Agents open doors, and also can be very helpful in guiding your career—as my agent has been.

I hear you have another book coming out soon. Tell us all about it!

Anastasia’s Secret will be my fourth book. My first two were adult books (Liszt’s Kiss was the second). Anastasia’s Secret is my imagining of the youngest grand duchess of Russia growing up during the Russian revolution. It’s more a romance than The Musician’s Daughter. It comes out March 2.

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

Just thank you! Without readers, we novelists would be in deep trouble. I’m so grateful whenever people read my books, and hope that they get some enjoyment and insight from them.

Thank you, Susanne!

Review of Tenderwire, by Claire Kilroy

tenderwireHi all,

Though I read this novel a few years ago, I never had the chance to review it. I remember it being an intriguing, strange read about a young violinist. Though the author isn’t a violinist, I recall the writing had good ‘violinist’ insight.

You might enjoy reading some reviews on this book at Mostly Fiction, Curled Up With a Good Book, and Steph’s Book Reviews.

About the author:

Claire Kilroy was born in 1973 in Dublin, Ireland and was educated at Trinity College. Her first novel, All Summer, was the recipient of the 2004 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and was short-listed for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. She lives in Dublin.

Happy reading!

Review of FourEver Friends, by former violinist Erica Miner

foreverSet in Detroit in 1960, FourEver Friends is an engrossing story for those readers interested in music and the violin. Written in first person from the point of view of the protagonist, Jessica, the story spans three years as she is admitted into a competitive, prestigious high school at the age of fourteen and later graduates at seventeen.

When the story begins, Jessica lives with her Jewish, conservative family. Though she has a nice, caring home, she’s not too open at communicating with her mother and father. She is encouraged to play the violin, but her father always reminds her to see herself and her future as a concert violinist and never as a soloist. But, from the beginning, Jessica questions the adults around her. She’s ambitious and has her own mind. Why should her father decide whether or not she should become a soloist? He’s also controlling in other ways, especially with boys, and when Jessica begins to date a German boy, more tension arises.

But for Jessica, studying music and practicing the violin come first, so it’s no surprise when she gets a full scholarship at a very competitive, prestigious high school. There, she learns how tough it is to stay on top surrounded by talented, hard-working students. She must prove herself and this isn’t easy. The stress pulls her into the vortex of anorexia, among other things. Fortunately, she has her best friends to support her.

The novel takes the reader through all the ups and downs a violin student goes through in order to excell. Jealous friends, insensitive teachers, and lack of a proper social life are just some of the things she endures. Is Jessica strong enough to survive all obstacles, or will she give up?

FourEver Friends
is partly a story about friendship but although the book cover shows four friends, I feel the story is more about two friends: Jessica and Marg. The two other characters, though they also share their love of music, stay mostly in the background and only come up once in a while. The novel can be considered ‘coming of age’ because it shows Jessica’s growth during those three years. Mostly, though, it is Jessica’s story. The book has a ‘diary’ feel to it, as it is written using mostly narration and not so much dialogue. I would also like to point out that this work is focused on characterization and not so much on plot. Very little happens plot wise, so the reader won’t find any twists and turns. It is simply a well-written first person account of what a violin student goes through in a prestigious school. I particularly loved all the references to composers and musical pieces; the novel is filled with them and this is one thing musicians or music students who read this novel will enjoy.

I recently asked the author what the inspiration for the book was and this is what she had to say:

“It’s loosely based on my teenage journals and my experiences at the real high school where the story takes place, Cass Technical High School. This school, kind of like a combination of New York’s High School of Music and Art and the Bronx High School of Science, with a plethora of other specialties added to the mix, was a unique opportunity for kids of that age to ‘specialize’ in their field of interest, and ‘major’ in a curriculum of their choice. Some of the students in the Music Curriculum went straight from high school to the Detroit Symphony; that is an example of the extraordinary level of education afforded by this school. College was almost a let-down for me after that. In four years being in that orchestra, whose conductor was my mentor, an amazing Russian man who was totally devoted to his students, we studied and/or performed all of the major symphonies and other symphonic works of the great masters: Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky – I could go on ad infinitum. It was a life-altering experience for me. Even now, whenever I hear a piece I had played there, the first thought that occurs to me is: ‘I played that at Cass Tech.’ What a wonderful foundation for my subsequent musical life! AND the three closest friends I bonded with during those years – my ‘FourEver Friends’ – well, we’re still each other’s closest friends. The book is a love letter to them, and I wanted to share our story with the world. There’s so much love there!”

Visit the author’s WEBSITE.

Read my INTERVIEW with the author.