I love September. Firstly, it’s my birthday month. 🙂 But secondly, September is a gorgeous time of year in Massachusetts. Maybe that explains why this month was a balance of indoor activities (the new WIP, reorganization / decluttering projects) and outdoor fun. There were a couple lows (ongoing anxiety, plus a dishwasher leak), but in short September was joyful and productive, with much to be thankful for.
In fact, it was such a good month, I had such a hard time narrowing down my list of joys for this Happy post. But that’s not such a bad thing, right? In the end, I settled on five that best represent the sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences that made my heart sing. And as always, feel free to share your joys of the past month in your comments!
Do you listen to music while you write? Has a specific song or music artist ever influenced one of your stories, poems, etc.? This has happened with a number of my published poems. Thus, Poetry & Song is a limited-run series where I share one of my published poems and the song that “helped me write” it. I also offer insights into why I chose that particular piece of music, as well as any other inspirations for the poem.
Some of you might know that I’m a published poet, with several poems accepted for print and online publication between 2012 and 2014. While I’m focusing on novels now, from time to time I’ve entertained ideas about how to discuss poetry (either my own or the poets I admire) here at the blog. Then, during last month’s Iceland Writers Retreat, I took Nadifa Mohamed’s “Music and Literature” workshop, which explored how the music we listen to can influence our writing. It turned out to be my favorite workshop of the event – and it also sparked the idea for this series.
Today I’d like to kick off the Poetry & Song series with “Elegy,” which was published in Soul-Lit’s Summer 2013 issue. And had it not been for a certain piano ballad by one of the most incredibly voices and songwriters in current pop music, I’m not sure “Elegy” would be what it is today. That’s why it’s impossible to talk about the poem without the song, or how that poem changed my feelings toward the song forever.
There’s something exciting about finding writers who live in your local area, especially if they write one of your favorite fiction genres. That happened earlier this year when I heard about Mackenzi Lee and her debut YA novel This Monstrous Thing. We both live in the Boston area, and her story melds historical fiction with steampunk – with the added bonus of Frankenstein. I wouldn’t say I’m not a fan of Frankenstein, but it’s also not something I’ve read much about. That said, when I read the blurb for This Monstrous Thing, the first three words that entered my mind were, “MUST READ THIS!”
This Monstrous Thing officially comes into the world next Tuesday, September 22nd. Which means it’s the perfect time to invite Mackenzi for an author interview! Today you’ll learn more about her novel and her path to becoming published, as well as her writing influences and her thoughts on the importance of sibling relationships. There might also be some bits about Mary Shelley, Tulipomania, and Jonah Hill gifs. Enjoy!
I may be done with literary conferences for the year, but not with literary events in general. Two are on my radar for this fall, and I thought I’d spread the word in case anyone lives near or is planning to be in the Boston area soon. Plus, both events are free! So there’s no need to worry about the cost of admission. 🙂 Continue reading
What an excellent way of getting back into the literary conference swing! The Muse & The Marketplace 2015 (a.k.a. #Muse15) was this past weekend in Boston, Massachusetts – and though I was only able to attend on Friday, I absolutely loved it! In fact, as I was walking from Park Plaza Hotel (where the conference was held) to the Back Bay train station that evening, the first thought that bubbled into my mind was, “I HAVE to go all three days next year!” 🙂
So, yes, #Muse15 was a fantastic learning, networking, and confidence-building experience. Here’s my report on Friday’s events, from the general conference details, to the presentations I attended, to lessons learned and tips for attending future conferences.
It’s been over a year since I attended my last literary conference. Which is hard to believe, because I love those kinds of events. They’re such fantastic opportunities to learn about writing and the publishing industry, discover authors whose books you haven’t read before, and network with other writers, bloggers, etc. And earlier this year, I decided that if I truly want to take my writing career seriously, I should invest my time and money wisely in conferences and other events I’m able to attend.
So, I’m thrilled about finally going to Muse and the Marketplace this year! Coordinated by the non-for-profit writing organization Grub Street, this three-day conference in Boston, MA offers lectures, guided writing sessions, and discussion forums about writing, publishing, book promotion, and networking with agents, editors, and other writers. It also offers the Manuscript Mart (where agents or editors review the beginning of your manuscript), Shop Talk Lunch (where you dine and socialize with your choice of Muse presenters and attendees), keynote addresses, book signings, open mics, and much more.
Muse and the Marketplace 2015 (also known as #Muse15, which you can follow on Twitter) will be held on Friday, May 1st through Sunday, May 3rd. I’m only planning to attend on Friday – but I’m fidgeting with excitement for it!
By the way, did you notice that I said #Muse15 is my first conference of the year? There’s a second one that I’m planning to attend over the summer. More on that at a later date. 😉
Anyone else planning to attend the Friday events for Muse and the Marketplace? If you’ve attended it in years past, what did you think of it? Let me know by commenting on this post.
One aspect of being a Sonic Cathedral staff writer that I’ve really enjoyed has been covering bands from my local area. The latest one is Baliset, a progressive rock / metal project from Boston, Massachusetts. Their three-track EP Exordium is their first new release in four years (their debut album, A Time For Rust, was independently released in 2009), and it shows how much Baliset’s sound has evolved since then. With a shift from male vocals to female and a balanced emphasis on melody and variety, Baliset proves that prog rock can be dynamic, compelling, and difficult to categorize without throwing in too much technicality.
Click here to read my review of Baliset’s Exordium EP.
Interested in checking out Baliset’s music? You can stream Exordium in its entirety and purchase a copy at the band’s BandCamp site. Part of the proceeds from EP sales will go to Manes & Motions, a non-profit therapeutic riding center started by the mother of Baliset guitarist / founder Greg Massi.
Coming Soon: Sonic Cathedral’s Best Albums of 2013 article, which includes my list of my top 10 favorite female-fronted rock and metal albums of last year, should be online soon!
Before I fell in love with metal music, I was a pop-rock girl. Part of me still has a soft spot for that genre of music, although I can’t stand most of the cookie-cutter garbage that’s overplayed on the radio these days. However, if one band has the potential to lure me back to the radio just so I could hear their songs, it would be the Jessica Prouty Band. This young quartet from Boston, Massachusetts (three of whom attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music) has cooked up a delicious and energetic blend of Southern rock, blues, pop, metal, and punk. With electric performances by all band members, including frontwoman Jessica Prouty, JPB’s upcoming third album Set Me Free will be a must-have for fans of female-fronted rock music.
Click here to read my review of the Jessica Prouty Band’s Set Me Free.
Below is a lyric video for the title track to Set Me Free. JPB struck a gold mine by choosing this song as the album’s lead-off single. It’s fun, gritty, and incredibly catchy. Not to mention it comes with one of the best crescendos I’ve heard in a long time! What do you think?
Coming Soon: The posting blitz is done for a little while. So it’s a matter of what I finish first: 5,000 more words in my novel-in-progress so I can post the next edition of “Chronicling The Craft”; or my next CD review, which will cover Hydria’s new studio album Freakshow.
Finally getting around to the next part of my retrospective! We’re halfway through the countdown of my 20 favorite artists that I’ve covered at Sonic Cathedral over the past 5 years. If you’ve missed the first two installments, now’s a great time to catch up:
Part 1: Artists #20 through #16
Part 2: Artists #15 through #11
Which means that today I’ll reveal the first half of my top 10. 😉 And remember that you can catch the daily version of the countdown at my official Facebook page.
I’ve been neglectful in the past of updating my website with events or open mic nights I plan on attending. This will change going forward. I’ve also been looking for a calendar widget to add to my sidebar, but it doesn’t look like WordPress has such a thing yet…?
Anyway, here are two upcoming open mic nights where you can catch me reading some of my poems:
Open Mic / Potluck Extravaganza*
Friday, July 12th
Grub Street Headquarters
* Attendance for this event is limited to participants who RSVP in advance.
Open Mic Night at the Catbird Café
Saturday, July 20th
New England Wildlife Center
Catbird Café’s Open Mic Night on July 20th is also Bellydance Night. So, in addition to musicians and poets, local bellydancers will perform that night. I’ve attended one Bellydance Night previously, and it adds a unique spark to an already creative evening.
I hope to see some of you at either event!