Friday, August 28, 2015

Too Old to Fall in Love? NEVER!

Well, I just did (imagine, at my age), with Dmitri Hvorostovsky, a hunky Siberian Baritone - together with millions of other music lovers.

Hvorostovsky & Kaufmann
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcHZ8SdSToU   (From Don Carlo -- Beautiful!)

(Please, wish Dmitri well. He is valiantly battling a brain tumor.
If there is such a thing as cosmic justice, he must beat it.)

Having grown up in Austria with music everywhere, I became a veritable hermit after moving into the (lovely) countryside of Arkansas. While I am happy here writing my novels, the things I most miss are my former seats at various opera houses of the big cities I have lived in.

At first, there was Vienna followed by the Chicago Lyrical Opera. A seat in Boston's Symphony Hall assured me concerts with Pavarotti et al. Then came a center box at the Met - company-owned, mind you and administered by me through my boss of - you guessed it - Italian extraction.

During the New England winters, I couldn't give those 12 center-box seats away. Hence, when they were in danger of going unused, I jumped into my sporty little Opel and, braving sleet and snow, drove from New Hampshire to NYC. Was it worth it? You betcha! Despite getting three speeding tickets one night (in three different states - oh, well, I won't have to worry about that anymore now that I drive a Volvo!)

Then came my happy San Diego days. The Opera House is one of the great venues for world-renowned singers these days. I heard Beverly Sills, Dame Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti in the eighties, and many other wonderful singers over the next decade.

Sherill Milnes still holds a special place in my melodic heart. When he sang the reviled Baron Scarpia, I even felt Tosca could have been a little nicer to him (instead of stabbing him to death).


Then, one of my highlights was a concert given by heartthrob Placido Domingo. That man has such charisma it is palpable from the first moment he comes onstage. The pricey ticket was given to me by my then boss Chris and his lovely wife Eloisa (was it they thought I was a good employee?).

As I sat there, wondering if the exorbitant price was worth it, I concluded YES. A resounding, heartfelt YES.

At a Boston concert, several times at the MET, and even in San Diego, I was privileged to hear Luciano Pavarotti. The world is poorer for having lost him.


And now, that I am (quite happily) ensconced in the foothills of the Ozarks writing novels, I do miss the excitement of live performances.

Although, with my new super-duper computer, I discovered YouTube - and with it the virtual world of Opera!
AWESOME!


And then, we have a young German tenor - Jonas Kaufmann.
Equally hunky, sexy, and quite extraordinary.

What did I tell you?
(He reminds me a bit of a young Placido Domingo - perhaps it's his rampant locks.)

To fall for him would be robbing the cradle. 

However, as they say, in music and literature, there are no boundaries.

Levity aside, why do we become "enamored" with artists, be they painters, singers, musicians or - yes - even writers?

It's because their artistry elevates us to a higher plain of "being human." So what, you say. Aren't we special anyway? Followed the news lately? Mostly, a sad, sad example of our supposed culture.

Therefore, celebrate the artists who inspire you! Who show you there is beauty. It can be yours too. But only if you're willing to embrace it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Starving Artists

They talk about “starving artists.” Well, in these paranoid times, this old saying has taken on a totally different meaning.
Like many of us writers, I get so engrossed I don’t dare to stop, not even long enough to fix a salad. Ah (I say looking into a woefully depleted refrigerator), how about that rubbery thingy aptly named String Cheese…
Good thing I am not writing on a laptop lounging on a tropical beach (don’t I wish). It took a paring knife together with my chicken shears to get the blasted wrapper removed from what turned out to be truly/awfully, stringy.
 

In the end, it was easier to unscrew a bottle of cheap wine!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

KU - Bowing to Industry Pressure or Smart Move?

Debates over Amazon’s new kindleunlimited Program where authors get paid by pages read are as heated as the presidential campaigns.
Late in July, I decided to put KHAMSIN, The Devil Wind of The Nile, into it as a test since it had sold woefully few copies through other channels. I was pleasantly surprised how well this saga of Ancient Egypt was being read. And while a few follow-on sales of the sequels were nice, they weren’t enough to buy me a camel.
So, I decided to put the entire series into KU's free-reading program. All four books will be available as soon as the novels are removed from my other channels, likely within the week - plenty of time to start reading Book 1 now (that's a hint). The next action/adventure novel in the Legends of the Winged Scarab - Book 5 - is in the works. Hold on to your camels, people, because it's going to be a bumpy ride!



What is certain in this uncertain fluctuating self-publishing business is: Your marketing plans must fluctuate with the trends; one must not be afraid to try out new things. And, if something doesn’t work, one needs to change it.
Time will tell. Better yet, a growing number of readers and followers and, with it, more reviews, would be most splendid and welcome results.
Do I need to say: Pretty, please?
* * *
Of course, the books are still for sale, both for Kindle and in print at 
Amazon-USAmazon-UK and all other international Amazon stores.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Christoph Fischer has a Condition - And it's Electrifying

My Review of Christoph Fischer's


Conditions


     Only too often, readers seem to insist on a neat package to put a book to rest. Give them murder, car chases, gun fights, and sickly-sweet endings. Then they can forget the name of the author, forget the title…they’re done. Next!
Luckily, there are writers who won’t let us off the hook so easily. I have followed Christoph Fischer’s writing for some time now, so I am already a fan. But with Conditions, he truly challenged me. It wasn’t a question of IF I would like it, but what did it bring out in me.
     Granted, not much seems to happen on the surface. The fascination with the story are the subtleties about the interactions between Charles’s diverse friends, all with their own quirks, their own problems, but most importantly their own support of a friend who tries as best he can with a “condition.”
     The writing, while subtle, brings out intense conflicts among them. The book, like life itself, doesn’t end in a neat package. Instead, to me, it made me wrangle with the one overwhelming condition that wove Charles’s friends together: Empathy.
     It made me wonder: Would I have it in me to be such a supportive friend to someone with a “condition”? I am ashamed to admit: I am not sure. The question haunts me.
     With me, Christoph Fischer achieved his goal: he made me think real hard about Conditions.



Friday, July 31, 2015

Russell Blake’s Kindle Worlds – Who Knew?

     I have featured prolific and wildly successful author Russell Blake’s diverse genre offerings before on my blog (with his blessing, I might add). But his newest venture was a new one for me: Kindle Worlds? Who knew? 
     Well, not surprisingly, Russell Blake did.



     Following an invitation by the powers-that-be, Amazon—something bestowed only upon the most popular authors—asked Russell to open up his fabulously popular JET series to Kindle Worlds, meaning other writers could weave their own web around Blake’s original characters.
     The idea took hold with astounding fervor, and the best of the best started coming up with their own ideas. Apart from Jet/Maya, Russell’s original main character, there are now new and fascinating protagonists popping up all over the place. And I mean, all over the place. Exotic locales abound; something I myself have always found irresistible. I love reading about far-away places, especially if they are described accurately in their historic time-frames—as they are in Jet’s Kindle Worlds.
     While Russell Blake and his inventive cohorts won’t need my little blog to give them a shout-out, I hope they nevertheless appreciate this one fan’s nod. Just as they will love you delving into those stories head over heels. So, go check out Russell’s blog and read all about the Kindle Worlds of JET: http://russellblake.com/
     Just like Clive Cussler, Russell Blake is becoming a household name; and no wonder. He (talking about Russell) recently co-authored two novels with the famous “Dirk Pitt”-author; a feat not easily come by (giving eye-teeth comes to mind). The Solomon-Curse and The Eye of Heaven
     Brava, Russell Blake.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Melody of Words

Today, I am happy to introduce
Susan Moore Jordan
and her wonderful novels combining her love of words and music.



Susan Moore Jordan doesn’t just love Opera like a lot of us do. She teaches voice in her private studio, and her students went on to leading schools of music, singing in opera houses and musical theater companies around the world.

Her other love is writing. To no surprise, her words have that lyrical sound evoking the same feelings in her readers as does listening to music for opera lovers.

Susan published her first novel, How I Grew Up, in 2013. 
It is a coming-of-age story based on a high school friend of the author, who suffered a horrific family tragedy a week before she was due to audition for her school’s spring musical production of Carousel.


 "You'll Never Walk Alone." The words from that song in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel held an especially poignant meaning for Melanie Stewart, who went on stage in the leading role of Julie Jordan mere weeks after her parents were victims of a senseless murder, perpetrated by her own sister's troubled husband.



 This was followed by the wonderful Eli's Heart in 2014


This is not just a coming-of-age story, but the rise of ELI LEVIN as a brilliant teenage pianist.
And, like any young man, he falls in love. Life should be perfect. However, Eli was born with a serious heart defect and not expected to live past the age of thirty. Where does such overshadowing leave young Love?

At the beginning of 2015, she published You Are My Song, her third novel.



The nineteen-fifties. Elvis is wearing Blue Suede Shoes.
The Grand Old Opry reigns supreme in Nashville.

But in a small Tennessee town Jamie Logan—a goodhearted young man with a superb tenor voice—stars in his high school's musical theater production and begins an unlikely, almost magical journey that could take him to the pinnacle of the opera world. 

* * *


All of Susan Moore Jordan’s novels are drawn from her life experiences as a voice teacher and stage director and are inspired by real people she encountered in the course of her long career.

Check out Susan’s Author Page at Amazon:
Susan also has a wonderful Blog about—you guessed it—Writing and Music.

Follow her on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/SusanMooreJorda

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Crystal Curse – Reader Reviews


The Crystal Curse
Book 4 
Legends of the Winged Scarab
has been out for a few weeks now.
I'd like to share (okay, gloat about) some comments from readers:

* * *

“There are surprises. No spoilers here, but if you think you can predict this narrative, you will be wrong frequently - and in totally logical ways. … There is magic of a sort, and ancient mysteries are afoot. There is greed and love, mishap and adventure. Again, this is a fun read.”
(Jim Bennett for the KBR Review)
~~~
I would hate to say this is the best book in the series, but it does raise the level of the series; it just keeps getting better.
(Joseph the EvilCyclist)
~~~
 “Ms. Borg is a gifted writer able to truly paint pictures for the mind's eye. Her details illuminate every corner of the imagination and her language and turns of phrase make the text sparkle.
(Dan Diego)
~~~
“The Crystal Curse, now tops them all. Perhaps the fact that I have read the whole series contributes to those feelings. On the other hand, if I had just read this book without all the background, I would still be impressed.
(Jo Cryder - Further, she says) “I'm looking forward to Book 5.
~~~
Already in the works.
Its theme and planned conspiracy action surprises even me.
That’s all I am going to say for now.

You can get your eBook here (with the paperback through Amazon):



Saturday, July 4, 2015

HAPPY FOURTH

Wishing Everyone a Happy (and Safe) Fourth of July


And if you don't like the noise accompanying real fireworks,
there are plenty of sparks flying in the
"Legends of the Winged Scarab."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Crystal Bridges Museum, Where Literature Met Art

Most people have no idea of the gem that sprung up in a little Northwest corner of Arkansas. (I know, you are not one of them--but I was, even though I have lived around here now for quite some time.)

Ms. Alice Walton (yes, of the Bentonville Waltons whose empire is known as WalMart), envisioned, created, and at last birthed an art complex so fabulous it easily holds its own among the world's most renowned treasure houses. And what's best about it is that is is exclusively American Art (hence the name).

To pull me out of the house after having slaved over Book 4 of the Legends of the Winged Scarab, The Crystal Curse, friends suggested I join them on the three-hour drive to visit the CRYSTAL BRIDGES Museum of American Art.
(Another "Crystal" -- get it? How providential was that? If I believed in my own fables, I surely would think it was a sign...)

Reproduced under the "Fair Use" law from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art website  http://crystalbridges.org/about/
During my long life, I have traipsed through most of Europe's grand museums, and even worked at the renowned Boston Museum of Fine Arts (did you get that in "Sirocco"?); so one might assume I am a little jaded.

Well, let me tell you: Crystal Bridges can not only hold it's own but, in my and every one else's book, it is right up there with the most prestigious collections. However, what impressed me personally the most was the modern architecture blending into a seemingly natural setting. Soaring ceilings, concave and convex beams defying gravity as glass and steel melded into each other, the vista tumbling down into the pool.

Walking trails encircle the acreage leading you through a soothingly natural and seemingly monochromatic landscape. But don't be deceived. The work to produce this serenity must have been monumental. Stone slabs of almost ancient Egyptian proportions line the easy walkways, suddenly thrusting you upon babbling brooks. A closer look through the foliage reveals the bronze sculpture of a fat and quite contented pig; then a bear exposes his enormous backside as he munches on a salmon.

Despite its grandeur and splendor, Ms. Walton not only gave the Crystal Bridges collection, its buildings and grounds, together with its enormous upkeep, to art-lovers, but she declared it "Admission-Free." Permanently! We saw seven-year old kids on a field trip with their teacher, young people with babies, families who might think twice about visiting "a museum" where the admission fee exceeded their weekly food budget.

Art and Literature cannot sprout from the dust of hunger or neglect. Young souls must be exposed to them, they must be taught. CRYSTAL BRIDGES is Ms. Alice Walton's and the participating donors' gift to imbuing future generations with the seeds of their own culture.

Now, do yourself a favor and visit the beautiful website of Crystal Bridges. You may want to schedule a trip to Bentonville.
http://crystalbridges.org/about/


KHAMSIN - Deeply Discounted

To show my appreciation to my readers -
especially those of you who read
SIROCCO and AFTER the CATACLYSM -

I have

DEEPLY DISCOUNTED

KHAMSIN, The Devil Wind of The Nile,
Book 1
Legends of the Winged Scarab

down to $0.99 from $4.99
(you save $4.00)


But it's only good through the end of June

The Book also got a new Cover.



     This is a sprawling saga about Ancient Egypt. Hence, woven into the multi-layered action are the ancient times, the land, its people, the Nile and that devastating devil wind, the khamsin.
     Besides enjoying the drama of warfare, court intrigue, forbidden love and, lastly, hope for eventual redemption of an ancient ba, a sinner's soul, readers might even learn a few things they didn't know.
     And it all happened 5000 years ago.


Links to Buy:



Amazon-US
Amazon-UK
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes (Apple)

And if you want to add your review also on Goodreads: