Monday, July 25, 2016

JAMIE’S CHILDREN: Niall’s World


In my new novel, Jamie’s Children, Niall Logan eventually finds his music and works toward a career as a singer-songwriter. Niall has a challenge that will take every ounce of courage he possesses to face: he is bipolar.

Writing about Niall’s disease was undoubtedly the most difficult task I have given myself to date. Yes, Eli Levin had a broken heart, literally. Being born with a severely defective heart which can never be made “normal” meant his life was of necessity different. Being a pianist with a huge gift and dealing with both those burdens was daunting. And certainly, Eli’s physical illness affected his emotional life; how could it not?

But Niall seemed perfectly healthy. He was a pleasant, easy-going youngster, well-liked by everyone. His earliest symptoms were bouts of severe depression. When he had his first manic episode, he didn’t realize what was happening. He went into remission for over a year. 

Bipolar disorder is disruptive; for a while, it can come and go (and every case seems to be unique). In Niall's case, the manic and depressive episodes became more frequent and more pronounced, and his life was turned upside down. If the cycle isn't broken the disease can be fatal, because the sufferer sometimes takes his own life. 

At present, bipolar disorder is treatable but not curable. Medications have to be adjusted. The patient sometimes stops medication and other treatment because the lure of the manic periods is so strong. In Niall’s case, he was also in denial about his condition. Who wants to be crazy?

Jamie’s Children, released on July 11, already has some good reviews. Niall’s sister Laura, child prodigy violinist, has her share of problems also. Here are some excerpts:

─ Jamie’s children may have inherited artistry along with their famous name, but powerful struggles seem to stand between them and any kind of fulfillment, with Niall battling a crippling and sometimes terrifying mental illness and Laura gaining a reputation as the Ice Princess as she obsessively pursues musical perfection on her violin.

─ The story opens as the musically talented son of a well known opera singer crashes under the weight of a debilitating mental health disorder. What follows is a powerful story about the dynamics of an emotionally unbalanced family and the power that music holds over them.

─ Jamie’s Children is a marvelous story of love, loss, adventure, and hope in which author Susan Moore Jordan paints a diverse cast of nuanced, relatable, and real characters. I came to love Niall and Laura — Jamie’s Children — within the first few chapters as they wrestled with a search for meaning in their lives.

Available on Amazon, paperback and Kindle. Here’s the link:
https://www.amazon.com/Jamies-Children-Susan-Moore-Jordan/dp/1533512922/






Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Jamie's Children: Adventures in Book Marketing

Jamie’s Children

Most indie writers whine a lot about marketing. There are many thousands of us who keep flooding the vast Amazon Book Jungle with our work, and it’s tough to stay positive sometimes. It’s a thrill to sell some books. Heck, it’s a thrill to sell ONE book!

There are many, many “experts” on an equally vast number of websites who claim they can help us sell books. Who knows what works? Who has any money to spend on marketing, anyway?

Okay, enough whining. I want to make you aware of my new book, entitled Jamie’s Children. I have a few reviews up on Amazon already, and this one really thrilled me:

The kids are alright, July 18, 2016
By 
This review is from: Jamie's Children (Paperback)
This is powerful material. I couldn't put it down. I was given an ARC for a review and I could only honestly say WOW!

The story opens as the musically talented son of a well known opera singer crashes under the weight of a debilitating mental health disorder. What follows is a powerful story about the dynamics of an emotionally unbalanced family and the power that music holds over them.

One of the things that really impressed me was the way the music found its way into the story and yet I found myself imagining it.

The story is quite intricate whilst the characters are as beautiful as they are flawed. I believe some existed in a previous book and i would be curious to read more. As it is I would recommend this book, and have done to my partner already, as it is a thoroughly good read.


An “ARC” is an Advance Reader (or Review) Copy, and this reviewer is from the U.K. Sending out ARCs was a new venture for me and I only sent out a few. I’ve read (free) online sites that recommend sending our seventy-five(!). I’m not sure how to go about that. The theory is that if you send out that many you’ll get maybe twenty-five reviews. I can’t address that.

Something else I tried was setting up an online book launch. I’ve only done one book launch party, and of course when you’re live and have a stack of books right next to you, friendly people who show up generally come with money in hand to buy a book. Online is very different: they can come and check over a post, and MAYBE order a copy. I used a Facebook event and I’m posting it on this blog in hopes you might check it out. I have some giveaway items for people who leave a comment/question that includes a “magic word.” So far, no one has won a free Kindle copy of Jamie’s Children. Or a $5.00 Dunkin’ Donut gift card. See, I have a teeny marketing budget, that’s one of my problems.

But these days, I live to write. So every book sold is a round of applause. And every review is a standing ovation. Check out my online book launch! What have you got to lose? And you might even win one of those fabulous prizes!


cover by Tristan Flanagan


Friday, July 15, 2016

Journey With Me Back in Time

Jamie’s Children, my fourth novel, was released on Monday, July 11. The first, How I Grew Up, was released in October of 2013. I’ve been on quite a journey. I’ve learned a lot about the craft of writing, I’ve learned a lot about publishing (especially self-publishing, which is the path I have taken).

Most of all, I have learned how much I love to write.

How I Grew Up, a fictional accounting of an actual event I experienced when I was a high school student in the 1950s, was the genesis for all of this. My work in progress even has its roots in the original novel. So in celebration of releasing novel number four, I am giving away Kindle copies of novel number one, between now and 11 a.m. EDT on Sunday, July 17.

Here’s the Amazon link for the giveaway. It’s a good story. Many people read it in one sitting. It’s the first person accounting of a life-changing experience for an eighteen-year-old girl (my close friend in actuality) who is able to move from tragedy to triumph with the help of her family and friends … and the power of creativity in her life.

There is also a Goodreads Giveaway for three print copies of Jamie’s Children, which is already receiving some wonderful reviews. So I’m including the link for that as well.

My characters have challenges to overcome, and the music in their lives helps them to meet these challenges. The other two novels are Eli’s Heart and You Are My Song.

If you love to meet new characters and come to love them, and if you love music, especially classical music, you will find much to enjoy.

 Link to Amazon giveaway for Kindle edition of How I Grew Up:

https://www.amazon.com/How-Grew-Carousel-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B017WE3GW0/

Link to Goodreads Giveaway for Jamie's Children:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/194112-jamie-s-children






Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Jessica the Border Collie

 Jessica is my house guest for a couple of days. She’s 102 in dog years and is slowing down, but she is still the best dog in the world to us.

She came into my older son’s life over fourteen years ago as a ball of fluff that was one of the most adorable puppies ever. At the time, Steve was equipment manager for Winged Foot Golf Club in Westchester County, New York. He was living in an apartment building which ostensibly didn’t allow pets, so she went to work with him every day. She rode to and from his apartment in a back pack and he taught her not to bark.

She grew up as a working dog on an upscale golf course, and her job was to chase geese away. Geese love golf courses; all that lush grass and water holes to boot. She was very good at her job, and when she wasn’t herding geese and chasing them off, she’d be in the shop with Steve, herding a tractor he was working on.

After five or so years, Steve returned to Pennsylvania and established a company which services playing fields, mostly golf courses. Because of his networking during his time in New York, most of his work is in that area and extends into Connecticut and onto Long Island. So during his active season, it’s an almost daily commute of two or more hours each way. Jessica was his traveling companion for many years, and roamed happily on some great golf courses.

Some six years ago, Steve finally met the woman of his dreams. She was his age and had two children, ten and eight at the time, and Jessica was able to retire and become a house dog. She fit right into this family and they adore her. She’d earned the pampering and spoiling. Recently she has gained a best friend, a sweet little cat named Mae West. The other cats in the household know that Jessica is Mae West's champion, so they steer clear of altercations with her.

I wonder if this will be her last visit. She has a hard time getting up and down the steps in my bi-level, and is content to sleep most of the time. When she first started visiting, my cat Josey was highly suspicious of her and hardly slept a wink. Who knew what the evil doggie might try. Jessica, who is the gentlest dog in the world, just ignored Josey’s freak show. In the past couple of years, once Josey gets over the shock of realizing her nemesis is once again invading her territory, she ignores Jessica. Mostly.

Jessica has been so much a part of Steve’s life for so long that saying goodbye to her will be very difficult. She’s still beautiful, though her eyebrows are gray these days, and she seems content to not move much. Border collies are very active animals and in their early years they need lots of room and they need to herd. She had all that. I think for a border collie, she’s had a great life. Last year when she visited she had the first accident in my house I had ever experienced. She was very ashamed, but I told her it was okay.

Obviously, I’ll miss her, too.

Jessica and Josey


Friday, July 8, 2016

It’s Curtain Time

Jamie’s Children

Laura and Niall Logan, children of a brilliant musician, have gifts of their own. Laura, first-born, child prodigy violinist suffers from emotional problems that haunt her well into adulthood. Niall, talented singer-song writer, is demonized by bouts of bipolar disorder. Supported by the people they love and the power of music, they seek to overcome these daunting challenges as they strive to claim their own place in the spotlight.

Laura and Niall officially make their debut in just a few days. No later than Friday, July 15, both print and e-book editions will be live and available for purchase on Amazon.com.

It’s been quite a journey. The idea for this book first struck me in the fall of 2014 and by November I had begun researching and putting ideas together. I’m grateful to the many people who shared their expertise to help me tell this story. I’m grateful to have discovered yet another way to express the joy music has brought to my life. I’m excited to share this story with you.

Special thanks to Tristan Flanagan, my brilliant young cover designer.

There are quotes from creative artists, both real and fictional, at the beginning of the book and at the start of each of the four sections. I love these.

“There is to truer truth attainable to man than comes of music.” – Robert Browning

 “Music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“The important thing is the music. It’s always there.” – Jamie Logan

“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the destiny of the artist.” – Robert Shumann

“It’s more than music. It’s light. It’s love. It’s life.” – Niall Logan



https://www.amazon.com/Jamies-Children-Susan-Moore-Jordan-ebook/dp/B01IA6FEA6






Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Let Us Speak Now of Famous Musicians

Over the course of a long life, it’s been my privilege to experience performances by some of the greatest musicians of recent times. As a high school student in the nineteen-fifties, my parents were generous enough to drive me to the University of Tennessee in nearby Knoxville to hear such performers as American opera stars Jan Peerce and Leonard Warren. It was there I heard the great pianist Arthur Rubinstein twice.

Since I write books about gifted musicians, I’ve begun also to read more books about real-life musical geniuses and am currently engrossed in Rubinstein’s book My Young Years. The book is as much about Arthur the young man as it is about Arthur the piano virtuoso, and I am enjoying it immensely. It seemed almost criminal that I paid the grand sum of seventy-eight cents (plus shipping) for this now out-of-print book written by this great artist.

From the time he was about fifteen (he made his professional debut at thirteen), Arthur began to develop a zest for experiencing all life has to offer a young man basically on his own. I’ve raised my eyebrows and laughed more than once at his escapades. Women of all ages seemed to find him irresistible, and he reciprocated enthusiastically. He developed the palate of a gourmand and money slipped through his fingers much too easily.

The result of this was that the young pianist far too frequently found himself in dire straits. He borrowed money constantly, paying it back when he could. This all took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Europe, and there were many wealthy and titled patrons of the arts who were very generous with him.

Recently I was struck by a part of the book in which he describes hitting bottom. A wealthy friend was ignoring his pleas for financial assistance, and twenty-year-old Rubinstein was barely eating. He was seized by a deep depression and eventually attempted suicide. He tried to hang himself with the belt of his bathrobe, which broke when he kicked the chair aside, and he was thrown to the floor.

He cried for a long time; but tears were not enough, and he says he “staggered” to the piano and “cried myself out in music. Music, my beloved music, the dear companion of all my emotions; who can stir us to fight, who can inflame in us love and passion, and who can soothe our pains and bring peace to our hearts – you are the one who, on that ignominious day, brought me back to life.”

Thank you, maestro. An affirmation of everything I’ve tried to express in my books.


  “It’s more than music: It’s light. It’s love. It’s life.” – Niall Logan, Jamie’s Children.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Chasing the Impossible

This morning I “shared” a meme (I think that’s what they are called) on Facebook, a quote from Ernest Hemingway: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” I liked reading that; it made me realize even the greatest of authors was never sure he got it right.

I’m about to release Jamie’s Children ─ my fifth book in three years ─ and I have read, edited, proofed, re-proofed, tweaked, re-read, re-re-re-etc.-read this book. Did I tell the story I wanted to tell? I believe I have. Did I do it the best it could possibly be done? Probably not, but I think I did it as well as I could, given where I am in this journey. People who have read it have been encouraging and even enthusiastic. I suppose in the long run, that’s all any writer can ask. I know that there will be readers who don’t care for my book, and that’s okay. What we write doesn’t resonate with everyone.

Here’s a truth: Perfection is unattainable by us mere mortals. I always understood that was the case in the performing arts. I never did a public performance that I didn’t wish I could have a do-over with, and I never really believed people who told me I had sung well. My late husband Sam, who had an exceptional tenor voice, was the same way, and he sometimes quite honestly did sound very close to perfection. I would tell him he couldn’t possibly have sung it better. He was never satisfied, though ─ it was never really good enough.

Perhaps that’s the way it is intended for people who actually excel in the arts. Do those who are satisfied with their efforts cease trying to improve? Performing artists can’t really “coast” ─ there are too many exceptional singers, pianists, violinists, folk artists who are eager to succeed and are working hard to become “the best.” It’s a tough business. Just ask the characters in my novels. Or their real-life counterparts. They still do it. They have to; it’s hard-wired into their souls. It’s what makes their lives meaningful.

I’m new to the writing field. I think I’ve improved, but I feel I still have a long way to go. But to me, that’s part of the enjoyment ─ constantly learning more about the craft. Striving to make it better. And even “more better.”

And once in a while, writing a sentence or a phrase that makes me think, “Where did that come from? Did I actually just write that?” That’s what makes us stick with it, I believe. Looking to find more of those flashes of inspiration that we believe will grab a reader and make them take notice; that will say something meaningful to them.

Here’s one I really liked when I put it “on paper” (well, typed it into the computer). My character Niall Logan thinks it when he realizes how important music is in his life.

It’s more than music: It’s light. It’s love. It’s life.

Samuel Jordan, tenor

Jamie’s Children will be available on Amazon July 15 in both paperback and Kindle.
Please look at my website to find links to my other three novels and one non-fiction book:
www.susanmoorejordan.com