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   (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.)

Sept. 5 -- Good News - visit Dmitri's official website:

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!

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 plane 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


     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.