Tag Archives: violin

I get a free critique of the first 3 pages of SOMEONE

One of the benefits of signing up for a Writers Digest Webinar, is that you get a bonus after it has ended. The first webinar I took allowed us to send in either a query letter of the first 300 words of our manuscripts. This webinar, titled  HOW TO HOOK AN AGENT, offered to send the agent leading the webinar the first three pages of your novel-in-progress. Accordingly, I sent in the first 3 pages of my second novel, titled HE MUST BE SOMEONE.

Set in 1922, it is a coming-of-age story about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. When Dominick Rossi arrives at Georgetown University to study at the School for Foreign Services, he dreams of meeting his aunt and three half-sisters. But Rossi’s actions lead to an unexpected death, and a forced separation from the woman he loves.

To my great surprise, I received a reply from the agent about a day after I sent in my pages. She liked them, but she also told me something useful. She said that my style of writing led me to do too much telling, which had the effect of distancing the reader.  This helped me to understand what it was about my writing that the other agent “didn’t love”.

Next: I enter the Amazon novel context

–Cynthia Haggard writes novels.  She is currently seeking representation for ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED, the Richard III story told from the point of view of his mother. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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Filed under About Cynthia, Agents, How to Publish Your Novel

I sign up for Unicorn Writers’ Conference

As I mentioned in a previous blog, my goal at the end of 2010 was to try and find an agent for my first novel ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED. While I had received some expressions of interest, by December 2010, no agent had signed a contract with me. I decided that my goal for 2011 would be to try and get my second novel HE MUST BE SOMEONE to an agent, while continuing to send ONE SEED around.

HE MUST BE SOMEONE is a very different novel from ONE SEED. While ONE SEED is set during the period of the Wars of the Roses, and is the Richard III story told from the point of view of his mother, SOMEONE is set in 1922, and is the story of a young woman who goes to Berlin to study violin (based upon the true story of my violin teacher).

When stylish widow, Angelina Pagano Miller, invites a potential suitor to supper one  evening, things don’t go as planned. To Angelina’s chagrin, the mysterious dark-eyed stranger finds her seventeen-year-old daughter Grace more appealing.  Angelina seeks revenge by trying to find out who her daughter’s suitor is, but her efforts are derailed by her sudden death.

Grace and her sister Violet are hustled out of town, and finally wind up in Berlin, where Grace, a gifted violinist, is accepted as a student by one of the foremost violin teacher of the day. Grace dreams of having a career as a soloist, but inadvertently acquires two other suitors. What should she do? Should she pursue a career as a violinist, or should she marry? And if she does marry, which one will it be?  It is hard for Grace to decide, as she feels drawn to each of her suitors in turn. Finally, she shocks her family (and creates a minor international incident) by disappearing on the eve of her marriage to her aristocratic suitor, Count von Lietzow.  Where is Grace, and why did she flee?

I needed to get some feedback on this MSS, and so I looked around for various writing conferences that occur during the spring, so that I would just have time to fix up the MSS to send off to Squaw Valley, which occurs in August. I stumbled upon The Unicorn Writer’s Conference, which is going to take place in a castle in Portland CT. What I liked about this conference is the fact not only do they have interesting sessions to attend, but for a little bit extra you can sign up for a one-on-one with a speaker, an agent and an editor.  I lost no time in signing up!  The conference takes place on Saturday April 9. Stay tuned.

Next:  Why writing conferences are important.

Image: triobrioso.com

–Cynthia Haggard writes novels.  She is currently seeking representation for ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED, the Richard III story told from the point of view of his mother. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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Filed under About Cynthia, Conferences, How to Publish Your Novel, Promoting Yourself

Music Review: Anne-Sophie Mutter’s Beethoven Violin Sonata No. 8

515Q8GVYCYL._SL500_AA240_Though it is true that Anne Sophie Mutter can get a loud sound out of her violin, she is also capable of playing with great delicacy.  Witness her performance of some of the passages of the Beethoven Sonata No. 8, Op. 30 No. 3. The opening movement is one of great contrasts and subtlety, and Mutter does not miss any of the nuances.  The slow movement requires some very quiet and restful playing, and Mutter is able to provided the sotto-voce veiled tone that is needed to evoke the mood of poignant contemplation.  The third movement is a rollicking moto perpetuo in Beethoven’s grand style, and here, Mutter plays just as her reputation suggests, with what my violin teacher used to call a “terrific sound”, i.e. a sound that can easily cut through the intricate rhythmic complexities of a concert grand piano.

Deutsche Grammaphon has packaged Mutter’s performance of the 10 Beethoven sonatas on a DVD.  At first this took me aback as I thought I had purchased a CD.  However, I soon found that if I set the DVD player on my iMac to open a small window, I could work on my computer while listening (and occasionally glancing) at the performance.  Note to Mac users:  If you just insert the disc, you will be in Full Screen view.  To get out of it, eject the disc, to get the small window to pop up, then put it back in again.  Alternatively, you can open the DVD player and set it to the small window BEFORE putting the disc in. I do not find the DVD distracting at all, as I can easily hide the window behind other windows I have open, and in the meantime I can enjoy listening to this heavenly music.  This would be a perfect Christmas gift for those discerning classical music friends who have never seen (or heard) Mutter perform.

–Cynthia Haggard once trained to be a professional violinist. During the day, she is a medical writer and owns her own business.  During the evening, she writes novels, short pieces and poetry. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories.  For more about her medical writing services, go to clarifyingconcepts.  (c) 2008. All rights reserved.

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Fiction: Angelina’s Soliloquy

As she lay in bed, Angelina kept puzzling over what had gone wrong.  Rossi was hard to reach, harder than most men.  She’d tried all of her seduction strategies on him and none worked.  Men usually like it when you listened to them attentively while fixing their drinks expertly and plying them with food.  They liked it when you dressed up for them.  They liked it when you did extra little things for them like making them coffee with your own hands.  But from the first moment he’d stepped inside the house, Rossi had given subtle hints that he wasn’t enjoying himself. It didn’t make sense.  After all, if he hadn’t liked her company, why had he accepted her invitation?
It had been a mistake to put that popular song on and ask him to dance, because he clearly hadn’t wanted to.  She should have been smart enough to notice that he wouldn’t like that kind of music, because when she’d left him alone, he’d played something quite different.  What was it?  Something by Bach.  The sort of thing Grace would know.
Grace…Angelina couldn’t figure out what had happened, because Grace hadn’t done anything.  She’d just sat there in that dreamy way of hers, showing no interest in him.  So why was he so interested in her? It was true the child had looked very pretty in that old ivory lace gown120 that had belonged to Aunt Pauline.  But that still didn’t explain it.  It didn’t explain why Rossi was so attracted to someone who seemed so indifferent, especially when Angelina had marshaled her considerable arts of seduction and failed.
Angelina had never seen anything like it before.  Her female acquaintances were like her; experienced in the ways of men, knowing when to press and when to yield. But Grace just stood there looking embarrassed while Rossi stared at her and Violet tactlessly went on about how old they were. Angelina was still smarting from that incident: Couldn’t Violet see how much it hurt to have a potential suitor clearly figuring out your age from the ages of your daughters?
The first real indications of Rossi’s feelings for Grace had been when he’d taken her hand and kissed it, making a gesture that was both odd and old-fashioned.  But far from encouraging him, Grace had done her disappearing act, as she always did when in front of strangers, leaving Violet to do the talking.
You would think Rossi would be put off; instead he positioned himself opposite Grace so that he could look at her. Angelina remembered how Rossi’s face lit up when Violet mentioned that Grace played violin.  He’d put his coffee cup down, and, addressing Grace, made his first declaration of love by telling her he was passionate about music.
But Grace didn’t seem to notice. She just sat there in her dreamy state. One of the things Angelina did not understand about her daughter was her complete lack of interest in men: She lived for her violin, and very little else, and this despite the fact that she aroused a considerable amount of male interest as she wandered around the streets of Georgetown.
It was only when Rossi offered to help her with her Brahms sonata that she came to life. Angelina couldn’t forget the dazzling smile that spread over his face when Grace sat up and actually looked at him. She couldn’t forget the expression in his eyes, how soft they became, when he looked at Grace.  Men didn’t usually look at Angelina that way.  They looked aroused, or bored, or amused, or cynical.  But not tender.  Angelina had never known a man look at her the way Rossi looked at Grace.
It was all so annoying, and painful, and puzzling. By the time the Brahms sonata came to an end, it was clear Mr. Rossi had fallen in love with her daughter!  Angelina could hardly bear to think about it.  What would happen if he returned and asked permission to be Grace’s suitor? Well, Angelina would not stand for it.  Grace was only seventeen for God’s sake and it was the height of rudeness to abandon the mother for the daughter.  If he did return, she would see to it that he was sent away again.  And with that thought, Angelina fell asleep.

–Cynthia Haggard writes short stories, novels and poetry.  During the day, she is a medical writer and editor who owns her own business.  For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories.  For more about her medical writing services, go to clarifyingconcepts.  (c) 2008. All rights reserved.

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Poem: My Violin, Garlanded with Flowers…

My violin, garlanded with flowers
Like a boat, pushed out into the lake.
HamptonCourtWater trickles into its curvy belly
It sinks, with ripples which roll to shore.

Like a boat, pushed out into the lake
It turns on the current, pushed up and down.
It sinks with ripples which roll to shore
It is gone, disappeared, vanished.

It turns on the current, pushed up and down
I feel the tears burning my eyes.
It is gone, disappeared, vanished,
My guide silently touches my arm.

I feel the tears burning my eyes,
I have loved my violin for 34 years,
My guide silently touches my arm,
“It is time to let go,” she says.

I have loved my violin for 34 yearsViolin
– I poured out my soul –
“It is time to let go,” my guide says,
So I follow her back to the forest.

I poured out my soul.
I learned to bow with precision and grace.
I follow my guide to the forest,
Where I sink into grief.

I learned to bow with precision and grace,
My fingers jumped with agility and ease,
I sink into grief:
For I could never play to perfection.

My fingers jumped with agility and ease,
But were not precise, my notes were off,
For I could never play to perfection,
The sound I made, not beautiful.

My fingers not precise, my notes were off,
I hated playing so badly.
The sound I made, not beautiful,
But I strived, struggled for years.

I hated playing so badly,
It filled me with misery,
But I strived, struggled for years
Until it was time to let go.

It fills me with grief and misery,
(Water trickles into my violin’s belly)
But it is time to let go of
My beloved violin, garlanded with flowers.

–Cynthia Haggard writes poetry, novels and short pieces.  During the day, she is a medical writer.  For more about her medical writing services, go to clarifyingconcepts.  For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2009. All rights reserved.

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