Sunday, November 30, 2014

Excerpt from ELI'S HEART

A Look Into Eli’s Heart

Eli’s Heart is a love story. Eli Levin is born in the middle of the twentieth century with a frightening and complicated heart defect. He is also a piano prodigy. As a young teenager, he visits a small Southeastern town (Eli is a New Yorker) and meets Krissy Porter, a girl who is a few months younger.

Eventually, they marry, and Krissy must learn to deal with the challenges Eli faces. They are passionate and devoted to each other. They experience good times and bad times over the years. How they handle these is the essence of the story.

Yes, Eli’s Heart is a love story, but it is not a “romance” novel. It’s about the characters and the life they share. It’s about the vital importance of music in their lives. It’s about how they deal, separately and together, with Eli’s damaged heart – a heart filled with music. I think the reader will laugh, and cry, and come to care about these people and what happens to them.

Here’s a taste of the book. This is the “Prelude.”  I hope it makes you want to read the entire story.

     It was the final night of the Moscow International Music Competition. In the aptly named Hall of Columns, with its massive Corinthian pillars, three-tiered crystal chandeliers and plush red seats, the large audience of world-class musicians and music lovers generously applauded the Award announcements.  
     The twenty-two year old American violinist Warren Anderson had just been awarded the gold medal. His accompanist, twenty-nine year old American pianist Eli Levin, then received a special award in recognition of his brilliance. It was the first time such an award had ever been presented at this event.
     Eli’s wife Kristina was overwhelmed when Eli’s award was announced. The audience stood and applauded, those near Eli voicing their approval: “Well done!” “Très bien!” “Bravo!” “Pozdravlaiu!” Everyone who had heard him recognized his genius, and the judges had as well.
     Eli bent to embrace his petite wife and, flushed with excitement, hurried to the stage to accept the award. Krissy watched through tears as her slender, dark-haired husband accepted a medal from the judges.When he returned to Krissy, he pressed the medal into her hands and bent down to speak to her softly: “This is for you, my sweet girl.” He held her close as she rested her face against his chest and wept for joy.
     Warren, Eli, and Krissy had traveled to Moscow together. The trip was a surprise for Krissy. Warren’s sponsors had provided her ticket and Eli had arranged with Maestro Aaron Rubin, General Director of the City Opera Company for whom Krissy was Personal Assistant, to give her the more than three weeks she needed to accompany them. Eli knew his wife had always wanted to visit Russia. It meant a great deal to him to make it possible, and Krissy was thrilled.
     The evening after the competition ended they were at the airport preparing for the long trip home, flying first to Paris and then to New York. They left as the sun was setting. As the Boeing 707 lifted into the air, the spires and onion domes of the city soon disappeared into the concentric circles of light surrounding the Kremlin. The sky on the horizon faded from a pale blue to a soft rose to a deep purple.
     Krissy wanted to give Eli a sleeping pill but he shook his head; he was tired enough to sleep without it. They were in the first class cabin, and Warren was across the aisle from them, the Amati violin he had played positioned securely beside him. That violin, valued at over one million dollars and borrowed from a collector, had not left his side the entire trip.
     Eli stretched his legs out as best he could. Krissy asked the stewardess for a blanket, and tenderly tucked it around her husband and herself. He smiled at her, rested his head on her shoulder, and soon after takeoff, he was sleeping soundly in the darkened cabin. She carefully removed his glasses and put them in her handbag.
     Eli was born with a defective heart. He had received a second surgery for the condition only months earlier, and even though he had seemed tireless and energetic throughout the competition, Warren noticed on the drive to the airport that he looked exhausted. No doubt that was why Krissy wanted to be sure her husband received some needed rest on the flight.
     Warren had also stretched out, and he could see Krissy’s warm brown eyes as she watched Eli sleep. She looked at him as if he were the most priceless thing on earth, a treasure almost unimaginable. He envied Eli this kind of love, a love he seldom saw even between the most devoted couples. He leaned across the aisle and said to her softly, “What are you thinking, Krissy, when you look at Eli like that?”
     She said, not taking her eyes off Eli, “That I can’t believe I’m with this incredible man. That I’ve been given a gift I can’t even describe.” She gently touched his head, stroking the dark, curly hair as she so often did. She smiled at Warren.
     “He’s very fortunate to have you,” Warren said. “I know he adores you. He’s told me that many times.”
     Krissy looked again at her sleeping husband and kissed his temple softly. “I’m the fortunate one, Warren. I lost him, years ago, not long after I met him. Eli brought us back together. I treasure every minute I have with him.”
     “Sounds to me like there’s a story behind that,” Warren said, settling back in his seat.
     She smiled but didn’t reply. Indeed there is, she thought. With a noble prince who rescues a damsel in distress, a wicked queen, and a sleeping dragon. A story with an unknown ending.

 Eli’s Heart is available on Amazon, paperback and Kindle.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Mysteries of Twitter

Oh Twitter, Wherefore Art Thou?

So last year I wrote this book.

After a long life as a musician/musical theater director/voice teacher/wife/mother (and everything those last two words imply), at the encouragement of a friend I finally sat down and actually wrote an 84,000 word novel. I was a little stunned that I had done it. It had been enormously gratifying and I was happy I wrote it. It is a very strong story, based on a tragic true event. I have three kind friends who are my “readers” and they said nice things.

Since I wrote it, I wanted to see it in print and hold a copy in my hands before I died. So I knew I probably should just find a way to publish it “non-traditionally” since at my age you never know and I didn’t think I had the time or the patience for years of submissions and query letters and no doubt many rejections. I decided to use a Print On Demand company, Virtual Bookworm. Yes, I paid them some money, and they produced an attractive printed book for me. I liked the book. I had a techno-savvy teenager, son of a former voice student and good friend, help me with a photo for the cover. It’s a pretty cover. You can see it on Amazon (and while you’re there, check out my author page, and maybe consider buying a book?)

Now I wanted to let people know I’d written it so they might buy it and read it. So I started searching the Internet to find out how to publicize … excuse me, “market” my book. I immediately found what an enormous industry book publishing is. Not just publishers, mainstream and P.O.D. and vanity publishers, but there are hundreds … maybe thousands … of people who are happy to tell you how to write and market your book. Mostly for a fee. I started to feel a little like Alice in Wonderland. Fortunately, one of my readers is a published author who gave me some guidance.

Things I learned for free on the Internet: I needed a “brand.” I needed a “platform.” I’m beginning to understand what those are, and I’m not sure I really have a platform. Who wants to read books about classical musicians? Other classical musicians? Oh, yes, I’ve written and published another book and have a third one in the offing. I’m addicted. I needed to write a blog and try to find a way to get people to read my blog. I needed to set up a Twitter account. A what? A Twitter account??

The blog was a good idea; free and easy to set up and since I was now hooked on writing, fun to write. But nobody much was reading my blogs. I created a Facebook author page. I created an author page on Amazon and on Goodreads. I joined a website for indie authors (see how savvy I am becoming?) and the website owner urged me to stick with Twitter. He kind of explained about retweets. Yes, I heard him correctly: retweets.

I’ve been “tweeting” now for several months, and one thing I’ve discovered is when I tweet about my blog posts, I sometimes get more people to read them. Okay, that makes sense, and I can do that. But there’s one thing about Twitter I’m having a hard time with.

Twitter is so fickle. People “follow” and “unfollow” you on a whim. Last week I had thirty new followers and then in one day five people unfollowed me. I currently have 512 followers, not the most I’ve ever had because two days ago I had 517 followers. I have learned that following people gets you more followers, but it doesn’t mean you’ll keep those followers. I don’t get this at all. Why “unfollow” somebody you’ve just started following? I’m a nice person! Now, 517 isn’t a lot. I see people I follow who have thousands of followers. I look at those numbers in awe … 12.5 K. Wow. I also see it’s possible to buy a bunch of followers. My contact at the website I mentioned discouraged purchasing followers. So I’ve resisted. Hitting 500 followers was cool, though.

And writing tweets is not easy for me. My second book has over 133,000 words. And I’m supposed to say something that catches people’s attention in 140 CHARACTERS?? SERIOUSLY? I’ve discovered that writing more tweets seems to result in getting more followers, so to date I have written 1,303 tweets. That’s probably not a lot in the grand scheme of things. I think I set this thing up about six months ago, but I’ve only been posting more tweets since late September. That was when I wrote a blog about the Eric Frein manhunt and had nearly 800 views of that one blog. That was nifty. It was a good blog post, and I wrote a few more on the same subject, and wrapped up Eric Frein (for the present) when he was captured. 

What I want to do is somehow persuade people to read my books. When people buy one it’s great, but I have no illusions about becoming a best-selling author at this stage of my life. Besides, who reads books about classical musicans? Oh, sorry, I already said that. So when someone local stops me in the supermarket or a parking lot and tells me they borrowed my book from a friend or relative and read it and really loved it, that’s a thrill.

Oh, about the books: the first was How I Grew Up, followed by Eli’s Heart. People who have read them have said nice things about them. They are strong stories and worth reading. The third, which I hope to release in January through CreateSpace (have I said how much I love Amazon?) is You Are My Song – a novel about a classical musician, this time a tenor who strives for a career in opera. You can read more on my website:

Excuse me. I should probably post a few tweets.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Tragedy in a Small Town

Excerpt from HOW I GREW UP

     How I Grew Up is a novel based on an actual event which took place in the mid-twentieth century in a small town in the Southeast. In a town which seemed the safest place in the country, a disturbed husband and father entered the home of his wife’s parents and shot three people. His  mother-in-law was killed outright, his father-in-law lived for a few hours, and the husband of his wife’s sister lingered in agony for some three months.
     It was my home town, and there was a third daughter in this family almost destroyed by the horrendous tragedy. Anita was eighteen and a senior in high school, and she was one of my closest friends. I lived through the trauma with her.
     This happened the weekend before our high school was holding auditions for the annual high school musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, and Anita planned to audition for one of the three female leads.
     The directors of the production waited a week, but Anita auditioned a week after burying both her parents. She won the leading role of Julie Jordan and went on to give a polished and moving performance which affected all of us who worked with her and the audiences who attended the production.
     A mutual friend remembered all these years later, “There was so much emotion in that auditorium.” Of course everyone there knew what had happened. It was an experience I never forgot, and decades later I wrote the book in order to tell Anita’s story. Sadly, she died young of breast cancer. Since her voice had been stilled, I attempted to write the story as she might have recalled it.
     In Chapter 3, “Melanie,” the name by which I called the protagonist since this is a novel and a work of fiction, has left after a family dinner to see a film. As she often did, she went by herself, walking to a nearby movie theater. All the other members of her family were in the house; “Tony” had left her husband “Allan” and along with her two sons was staying with her parents. “Alice” and “Steve” and their two little girls were there for dinner as well.
     Here are excerpts from this chapter of the book. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and e-book and also can be purchased at

Excerpts from Chapter 3

     The movie was Rhapsody, starring Elizabeth Taylor. I loved it. She played a girl who went to Switzerland to be with a violinist she thought she was in love with, but she met a piano student at the conservatory there who fell madly in love with her. The music was incredibly beautiful, and I kept wishing Krissy and Ellen were both there with me. The piano concerto at the end of the film was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever heard.
     It was about a quarter after nine when I walked home. The streets were already mostly quiet at that hour, as usual. I had glanced at my watch when I left the theater. It was almost exactly 9:15 p.m.; time in my world was about to spiral completely out of control.
     As they often did, scenes from the film I just watched played out in my mind as my feet found their way home by instinct. The wonderful music was echoing in my head and I thought I would have to see this film again. Maybe Krissy could join me and we could go over the weekend.
     Then a sight straight out of a movie jolted me back to reality. Just before I got to our house I saw two police cars parked right in front. Then I saw the tape across the front door. Something very bad had happened here. My heart seemed to drop down to my feet. I knew something had happened because of Allan and my nightmare had come true.
     I stopped walking; I wanted to turn and run away. My heart started to beat so hard and fast I was sure the young police officer standing outside the house could hear it. My heartbeat was so loud it felt like it was roaring in my ears.
     The officer walked to me. The expression on his face scared me even more; he looked like he knew what had happened in that house was more than awful.
     I knew it, too.
     “Are you Melanie Stewart?” he asked. His voice was very gentle. I couldn’t even speak. I just nodded. I had my hands clasped tightly in front of my waist. That seemed to be the only way I could keep myself from falling. This isn’t happening, I thought. This can’t be real.
     “Please wait here,” he said. I noticed his name on his uniform coat. Officer Miller.
      “What’s happened? Can I please go inside?” I could hear how badly my voice was shaking.
      “Your sister is inside. She’ll be out to speak with you. I’ll bring her right out.”
     He went into the house and was back with Tony very quickly. I was so relieved to see her. Tony wasn’t hurt. Allan hadn’t killed her. So what had happened? Did he kill the boys?  Where were Momma and Daddy, and Alice and her family? The officer stood at a distance while
     Tony came and hugged me for a long time. I said, “Tony?”
     “I need you to be really brave, Mel,” she said, in a voice so quiet I could hardly hear her. “Allan came here tonight.” She had to stop for a minute, but then continued, “He had his gun. He shot Steve and Daddy. Then he shot and killed Momma.”
     I pushed myself away and stared at her, and said, “What?” She could not have said what I thought I had just heard. Why had Allan killed Momma and Daddy, and especially Steve?
     Tony was crying. “I’m so sorry, Melanie. I never thought he would do something like this, no matter how angry he was.”
     I staggered and almost fell, and Tony had to help me stay on my feet. My world had just been completely torn apart. This could not be real. It wasn’t happening. I was not standing outside my house, listening to my sister say these things. I wanted it to be earlier, for all of us to be inside the house talking and laughing. If I didn’t go to the movies, would everything still be the way it was then?
     “No no no no no no,” I barely whispered. My throat felt tight. Tony held me close.
     “Melanie, I need you to be really strong. Steve and Daddy are at the hospital and Alice is there with Steve. I have to stay here with the children. Can you drive yourself to the hospital?”
     I shook my head no. I was crying so hard I couldn’t even see. I started to shake as if I were freezing, even though it wasn’t a terribly cold night.
     “I will take you, ma’am,” the police officer said. I just looked at Tony. I shook my head. “I can’t go there, Tony.”
     She said, “You need to go, Melanie. Daddy needs you.”
     Officer Miller had the door open to the rear passenger side of one of the police cars. Now there were three of them; another officer was just getting out of the third car. Tony walked me to Officer Miller’s police car, hugged me again, and helped me inside. She was crying but tried to smile encouragement. I clung to her for a moment, not wanting to leave her, but she gently pulled my hands away and said, “Please go, Mel.”
    (At the hospital) Alice told me what had happened. It had been getting late for the children, especially the girls, but they knew I would be home soon. Alice and Steve decided to stay a little longer so the girls could say goodnight to me. They were having coffee with Tony and our parents, and the children were playing on the stairs.
     They heard someone kicking the front door and they all knew it had to be Allan. Alice ran upstairs with the children and Momma, Daddy and Steve all stood up. Tony was nearest the door. Allan quickly kicked in the door and was pointing his gun at Steve. Alice heard loud yelling and then five shots fired. Tony started screaming. 
     Alice told the terrified children to stay put, and went back down to the living room and saw the horror. Tony was on the phone talking to the police. Allan was gone. Daddy and Steve were on the floor. Steve was groaning in pain. Momma was sitting on the sofa, but her head was back at an odd angle and her eyes and mouth were open.
     Alice went closer to them and saw that Daddy was moving slightly, but Momma was completely still. Alice knew she was dead. It looked as though she had been shot through the heart. I kept waiting for her to say there was blood everywhere. She didn’t. I heard that later, from Tony. The police arrived almost immediately, followed by two ambulances. One of the ambulance attendants went to Momma, checked her, and shook his head. They put Daddy and Steve in the ambulances quickly. Tony told Alice to go with Steve in the ambulance, so she did. She didn’t know what happened after that and she didn’t know how bad Daddy was.
(Later, Melanie’s friend Krissy comes to the hospital, accompanied by Krissy’s father.)
     I don’t have any idea how long they stayed, but the nurse came in and said my father was being brought in soon and they would have to leave. I managed to stand up and hug Krissy and thank her for being there with me. Then she was gone. The nurse asked me to step out for a few minutes while they brought Daddy in and did what they needed to do. I was so tired I felt like I was floating when I tried to walk.
     I was so tired and lightheaded I put my hand out and leaned against the wall. Pastor Jackson put an arm around me and asked me if I needed to sit down. The nurse came for me, and they both took me into Daddy’s room. He was so still and pale. There were tubes and machines. I saw a bag with a tube going to his arm, and knew it was a blood transfusion. Seeing him was a terrible shock, worse than I had expected. I’d never seen Daddy look like this. For one awful minute I felt a wave of dizziness that was so bad that I thought I might faint. The nurse put her arm around my waist to steady me.
     I could hardly believe the man I was looking at was my father. I touched his hand and said, “Daddy?” but his eyes didn’t open. Please look at me, Daddy. Look at me and smile. Please, Daddy. Please don’t die.
     Dr. Morgan was there. He put his hand on my shoulder. “We did everything we could for him. He was shot twice, and he lost a lot of blood. There was a lot of damage. I wish I had better news for you.” I just nodded my head. He was telling me my father was dying as I stood there next to him. I couldn’t continue to stand up.
     Dr. Morgan asked me if I would like to lie down for a while and try and get some rest. I shook my head yes, and the nurse took me into the room next to Daddy’s. I put my coat on a chair, slipped my shoes off, and lay on the bed. It was hard to move because I hurt all over. She covered me with a blanket, then flicked off the light and left, closing the door very gently behind her.
     I lay there for a while, wishing with all my might that someone would hit a rewind switch, and everything that had happened over the past few hours would be reversed. I imagined myself getting out of the bed, backwards, going into Daddy’s room backwards, everything happening backwards, the policeman backing the police car up from the hospital to our house, me walking backwards into the theater, and then the rewind ended, and I watched the movie and then walked home where there were no police cars or tape on the front door, no Officer Miller standing outside my house, nothing bad had happened, and I went inside and the children were in bed, and I said goodnight to my family, went upstairs to my room and got into my own bed. With that thought I closed my eyes and thankfully, mercifully, fell asleep.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Voices Stilled Too Soon

Tenors, When the Music Stops

     Presently I am in the process of attempting to finish my third novel, You Are My Song. At this point I am aiming for an early January release, but there’s “no opening night,” a time constraint I’ve grown accustomed to after some thirty years of directing musical theater productions. One of my very astute readers pointed that fact out to me with my first novel, How I Grew Up, when I seemed to be at the computer day and night and finished the book in less than five months, which I have learned is – at least for me – breakneck speed. My second novel, Eli’s Heart, took about nine months. There is also “no closing night” with a book. It’s there for any person who chooses to read it and become a member of the audience for each story I tell.
     Back to the nineteen-fifties, the era I continue to “live” and write in: My character Jamie Logan is a young, good-looking singer from East Tennessee who decides to pursue an opera career when in his early twenties. He’d been the star of the music department in high school, but when he married his high school sweetheart the music stopped. Sarah wasn’t supportive of Jamie the singer, and he wanted to please her. However, nothing he did satisfied her, and the marriage failed.
     Jamie is a tenor. There is something about the intensity of the tenor sound which many people respond to differently; something visceral, a sense that the human voice isn’t intended to soar in this manner and with this intensity. A good tenor, a really good tenor who can provide that ringing high note at the end of an aria performed with passion and skill, gives the listener more than the satisfaction of hearing something extraordinarily beautiful. It becomes an experience; an “ah” moment.
     There’s a bit of a sense of danger having been circumvented, similar to watching a high wire artist take the final step to safety, or the circus flier working without a net catching the trapeze cleanly.
     While writing this book I’ve listened to a lot of opera. I’ve listened to a lot of tenors. I’ve read about a lot of tenors whose lives were touched by tragedy … the potentially great Mario Lanza, who died at thirty-eight. Lanza had so much promise and such a huge gift, and seemed to be destined for a long career as an opera singer. Instead, Hollywood beckoned, and who knows what his accepting that lure may have cost him.
     Jerry Hadley was another fine American tenor who also died far too young. Hadley had an immensely successful career for many years and seemed to have the world of opera at his feet … and yet when his marriage ended, his singing stopped. He was overwhelmed by severe depression for years. It appeared he was ready to begin a comeback when he ended his own life.
     During the Metropolitan Opera’s 2002-2003 season I heard yet another outstanding American tenor make his first Met appearance in the title role in Gounod’s Faust. Marcus Haddock had a beautiful voice and he was already an established international artist. It was a thrill to be a member of the audience for this auspicious debut.
     Some six years later, this very successful tenor suffered two massive strokes in the course of twenty-four hours. He survived but was left severely debilitated. The trauma included damage to his vocal mechanism. He’s begun to do some modest performing but his website does not show any engagements beyond March of 2014.
     From what I’ve read, Haddock is spending a lot of time these days teaching in his home in upstate New York. To have the kind of career he had and have it taken from him so abruptly is difficult to imagine, but he seems to be a man of great courage.
     My character Jamie Logan has other challenges to deal with. While I was writing my first draft I was not aware of Marcus Haddock’s struggle, and learned of it through Internet searches when I recalled hearing that Faust performance which had so impressed me over ten years ago. Ironically, Jamie does have some vocal difficulty and is unable to sing for a period of time.

     Singing again was what Jamie had needed. It was hard to explain to anyone, but he felt a sense of joy when he sang, a sense of being connected to everything good and beautiful in the world … no, in the universe. He knew he was able to produce sounds people liked to hear, and those sounds made him aware he could share the joy that sometimes was almost overwhelming to him, the joy that had to find this expression, this love, this beauty.
     Meredith had been concerned when Jamie seemed depressed, and it made her wonder what he would do if for some reason he could not sing at all … if some terrible illness or accident took his voice from him. Life is so fragile, she thought. We like to think we have control over our lives, but we don’t.

     Jamie doesn’t have to face what Marcus Haddock has heroically been dealing with for some five years at this point. He has other trials to face, and in Jamie’s case, his music … his singing … is what provides him with the means to deal with those events. And while there is no way I can know this, I have to think Mr. Haddock’s music has been his source of sustenance as well. He is still connected to everything good and beautiful in the universe; music is in his soul. It will never leave him.
     I salute you, Marcus Haddock. You are a courageous man and an inspiration.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More About Eli's Heart "Musical Book Signing"

Music and Books, Take Two

A definite perk to writing about music and musicians are my “musical book signings” … so far I’ve had two. This time I got a little wiser and we took pictures! Lots of pictures, I’d like to share a few.

The occasion: readings and music from Eli’s Heart, Sunday, November 9, Pocono Community Theater in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The theater supports the efforts of local authors and this is the display the night of the event.

 Audience entering the auditorium.

Scott Besser, Chris Souza and Kara Snyder, three excellent musicians and friends, performed some of the music described in my book, Eli’s Heart. I introduced each piece with a short reading from the book.

We opened with the first movement of the Franck Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano. Here are Chris and Scott performing.

 One of my character Krissy’s favorite pieces is the Rachmaninoff Prelude in G Minor which her husband Eli Levin plays for her. Scott performed it for Krissy … and the audience!

 Next we heard Kara Snyder sing two of the songs from Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben, with Scott on the piano. Krissy sings the song cycle on her graduating recital about a year and a half after she and Eli are married.

Scott played the Debussy Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum and we closed with the final movement of the Franck sonata.

End of a lovely evening! All photos by Tristan Flanagan.

Eli's Heart is available for purchase on Amazon, paperback and Kindle.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Music in "Eli's Heart"

Music and Books       

     While I was writing Eli’s Heart, which is a novel about a piano prodigy born with a complicated and terrible congenital heart defect, I listened to the music I was describing in the book by way of YouTube videos. Last night I had the satisfaction of hearing some of this music performed live by some extraordinarily gifted musicians who live right here in the Poconos.
     Thanks to the generous Pocono Community Theater which is very “local author friendly,” I had a perfect venue for a book reading/signing and a musical program featuring three local artists, Scott Besser, pianist; Chris Souza, violinist; and Kara Snyder, soprano. We all used social media and word of mouth to spread the word about the event and had a surprisingly nice turnout. I’m sure many people came to hear Scott, Chris and Kara. While jazz performers thrive in the eastern Poconos, mainly at the Deer Head Inn and the annual Celebration of the Arts in Delaware Water Gap, local audiences for classical music programs tend to be small.
     All the music performed last night plays an important role in the book. My character Eli Levin meets Krissy Porter when they are young teenagers, and what might have become a romance is abruptly ended by Eli’s concerned mother. I don’t like to call her interfering, because I can understand Ida being protective of her son … what do you do with a child who isn't expected to live past the age of thirty, and has this amazing musical gift? How do you protect that child and try to help him live as good a life as he can, however short it may be?
     Eli and Krissy eventually find their way back to each other and marry when they are college students. They are both challenged with the dual burdens he must deal with daily. Krissy at first doesn’t completely understand what his early death will mean to her, but during the first year of her marriage she comes to an appreciation of what she needs to do in order for Eli’s life to be a happy and fulfilling one.
     It was truly a thrill for me to hear Scott play the difficult and demanding music Eli plays, such as the Rachmaninoff Prelude in G Minor; to hear Scott and Chris play two movements of a violin and piano sonata (Franck Sonata in A Major) which plays an important part in the lives of Eli and violinist Warren Anderson; and to hear Kara sing two selections from the beautiful Schumann song cycle, Frauenliebe und Leben which Krissy and Eli perform together on both their graduating college recitals.
     The music and readings lasted under an hour. The audience was most appreciative of the splendid performances they heard and seemed to enjoy hearing selections from the book. I appreciated their coming to hear our music and it was also nice to sell some books.
     I think I am fortunate indeed to write about music and musicians and to have friends to help me make more people aware of this wealth of beauty, this power in the universe, available to everyone. It may be a serendipity that people coming to a “musical book reading” will be introduced to classical music and perhaps want to hear more of it.

     It’s interesting and a sign of the times in which I live that my “discography” in the back of the book indicates all of the pieces listed are available on YouTube. Eli and Krissy would have no earthly idea what that is … they live in the fifties and sixties. They write letters and make long distance phone calls. 
     Another era.

"Eli's Heart" available on, paperback and Kindle

Monday, November 3, 2014

Music and Words, November 9

A Musical Party for Eli and Krissy

     I had a great time last spring when I had my first ever book signing at the Pocono Community Theater for my first book, How I Grew Up. Some nice, very talented people performed songs from Carousel, the musical which features so importantly in that book. People who came to the event thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It was a party!
     I look forward to having people join me to enjoy some wonderful music on Sunday, November 9, at 7 p.m., again at the PCT. The Theater has generously agreed to let me use their very lovely space for this chamber music concert. Since music is important in my second book, Eli’s Heart, I have very gifted friends performing classical selections which are particularly meaningful to my characters Eli and Krissy. I am looking forward to hearing Scott Besser, pianist, Chris Souza, violinist, and Kara Snyder, soprano, perform this beautiful program.
     By no stretch of the imagination am I the kind of pianist that Eli Levin, the prodigiously gifted character in my book, is. Scott was extremely helpful while I was writing, making suggestions about sections of the book I asked him to read. Chris was also a great help: I wanted a work which showed the virtuosity of both pianist and violinist equally. He suggested the Franck Sonata in A Major. I listened to it and immediately fell in love with it. It becomes quite important to Eli and a violinist he performs with named Warren Anderson. Scott and Chris are playing two movements from the sonata on Sunday.
     Scott is playing the Rachmaninoff Prelude in G Minor and Debussy’s Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum, pieces he plays in the book for the girl who later becomes his wife. Kara and Scott are joining forces to perform two songs by Robert Schumann from his song cycle, Frauenlieben und Leben, songs which are meaningful to Eli and Krissy since they perform them together.
     While there will be copies of both Eli’s Heart and How I Grew Up available for purchase at a reduced price, primarily I hope people come to hear and appreciate this beautiful music, superbly performed by these musicians I feel privileged to call friends.
     Thanks to my sponsors, Jim the Hairdresser (JTH Salon) and DryJect Northeast, there is no admission charge for the event. I promise to keep my remarks and readings from Eli’s Heart brief! It would be great to see people at the theater this coming Sunday.