Monthly Archives: April 2015

Introducing OFF BALANCE

Released on Oct 30, 2016: OUTSIDE THE LIMELIGHT, Book 2 of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles! Still haven’t read OFF BALANCE, Book 1? It’s $2.99 this month at Amazon


As you might remember, dear reader, I made a vow to myself back in January to make 2015 the year I began self-publishing my completed novels.  Spring 2015 was my goal for the first one, and — gulp– here we are. Time for my first baby to take flight.

And so, without further ado, here you have it, folks. OFF BALANCE is Book 1 of the Ballet Chronicles. Book 2 will follow in fall of 2016.  Launch day for OFF BALANCE is Sunday, May 10th. Mother’s Day (for us in the U.S.). I did that for a reason, actually. Mothers and daughters factor into the story, both the struggle the motherless daughter feels, whether she has a “replacement” mother or not, and the more complicated struggle of a daughter who loves her over-controlling (or narcissistic/psychotic/angry/absent/melodramatic/ name your toxin here) mother, even as she, well, sorta hates her. Or loves the woman and hates the dysfunction, the eternal stain on their relationship.

But I digress, which I should save for my Mother’s Day post here. Over the past two years I’ve written about being a motherless daughter and the challenges Mother’s Day brings. I think it’s lovely that, this year, I will be focusing on this creation I have brought into the world. OFF BALANCE is a very feminine book, in my mind. Ballet is a feminine art. My two protagonists are females. Which doesn’t mean I don’t want guys to read it. Because there are guys in the book, of course! Good looking guys. Hot guys. Okay, I admit it. There is romance in the book. Sex scenes. Animal passion. Hell, if you’re going to self-publish, gotta make sure you’re producing the kind of material you love to read. Right?


I don’t want to overload this site with sharing details about the book and little newsy updates every few days. That always annoys me when a writer hijacks a great blog to incessantly peddle a personal product. Kind of like oversharing grandchild photos. A few are adorable and exciting. A few dozen are, well, um, okay, I made my point.

There will be updates and stuff posted on “The Novel” in my header. There is now, in fact. If you go over there, you’ll get a book cover description of the story, and a link to pre-ordering the book at Amazon.

Want to read an excerpt? Your wish is my command.

The last bit to share is fun: I decided to become an independent publisher, as well. There are a hundred things I need to do to get that ball rolling, and I am as hopelessly behind on that as I am pre-pub marketing efforts (don’t even ask). But, hey. It’s like publishing this book at all. Is it really ready? Am I? Hell, no. But sometimes in life you just have to DO it and stop your nervous little planning and planning. Planning is safe. Doing is not so safe. Doing when you don’t feel fully ready, but deep down, you know you just have to do it, like the way someone pushes you from the plane when you’re sky-diving and you’ve decided nope, don’t want to do this after all, and you’re sort of backing away from the open door and someone’s pushing you and you’re pushing back because you really, really don’t want to do it now, but they’re stronger and used to wimps like you and OMIGOD THEY PUSHED OUT, YOU’RE OUT THERE, OH SHIT, YOU’RE OUT THERE, AND IT’S TERRIFYING and exhilarating and… wait. It’s thrilling. Like being launched into an exciting new world.

So that’s why they call it launch day.

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“Introducing OFF BALANCE, from Classical Girl Press, a novel set in the ballet world. Two women, their secret struggles, a friendship forged in a world where illusion is everything.”


Messiah time again


Handel’s Messiah has “Easter” written all over it for me. It must have been a family thing growing up in a Catholic household, hearing the Hallelujah Chorus blaring from the speakers on Easter morning, a sound as embedded in my memory as the crinkle of the cellophane covering the Easter peeps (that I always admired but never ate – way too much marshmallow). This, amid the clamor of five sugar-energized kids, a baby and two teens, Mom’s voice calling over the din to not eat too much chocolate before breakfast or church, which, of course, I proceeded to do.

Ahh, Easter. And the much-loved Messiah. The years pass, my relationship with the Catholic Church waxes and wanes, my appetite for handfuls of chocolate and marshmallow before 9:00am is gone. I now live 2000 miles from that home base. Listening to Messiah, however, never fails to put me right back in that powerful place, where high art meets spirituality, making life seem timeless, utterly rich, even miraculous, and never more so than on Easter morning.

Here’s the whole shebang. Give it a listen. It’s still Easter season, after all. (Here’s a link if my embed doesn’t cooperate: And if you find this version too slow, try this one:

 I know many people consider Handel’s Messiah to be a Christmas-season classic. The San Francisco Symphony presents it as such, every December. And it’s true that Part I is very Advent, prophesizing the arrival of a messiah, chronicling Jesus’ birth, etcetera. It’s Part II that’s considered the Easter [and Lenten] portion. But here’s a confession: aside from the Hallelujah Chorus, I never really listened to the rest of the work, certainly not the complete version. (Overhearing the “Hallelujah” side of the record set as a kid as I raced around on a sugar buzz doesn’t count.) Even though I’ve sung in choirs for half my life. Seventeen years ago, however, my husband and I left the Bay Area for the Santa Cruz Mountains, and I began to commute annually back to the old neighborhood to sing Easter Sunday Mass with my old choir. The ride took an hour and ten minutes each way; perfect amount of time to listen to a CD. Of course it needed to be Handel’s Messiah. 

For the next dozen years, that was my tradition. My husband and young son stayed at home and I’d leave the house early, as the world was just waking up. It was sleepy and pristine, gorgeous scenery of redwoods, coastal mountains, with the Pacific Ocean glinting in the distance to the west. Listening to Messiah was nothing short of sublime. And just as I pulled up to the church parking lot, there it was: the Hallelujah Chorus. Perfect.


Messiah is an oratorio, which is sort of like an opera without the acting, grand pantomiming and expensive sets, and tells a sacred story, not a racy one. Handel composed over twenty oratorios. He’d composed plenty of operas (final tally: forty), but they were more expensive to produce and the popularity of his opera works had begun fading. In 1741 he decided to take a break from it all, and leave his London base for a sabbatical in Ireland. It was here that he composed Messiah, in just twenty-four days. It premiered in Dublin on April 13, 1742, during Easter season. (Aha! Even he considered it more an Easter work than an Advent one.)

Here are a few more interesting tidbits about Handel and Messiah:

  • The original [German] spelling and pronunciation of George Frideric Handel’s name is Georg (GAY-org) Friedrich Händel (HEN-del). His father was a barber-surgeon (I know, right?) and Georg’s original game plan for life was to study and enter the practice of law. While in law school, he started playing the organ for a local church, and, well, that started the composing music ball rolling.
  • Audiences typically stand during the “Hallelujah Chorus” movement of Messiah. One story as to why dates back to when King George II of England heard it being performed for the first time. Story has it, he was so dazzled, so overcome with emotion, he rose to his feet automatically. And when the king rises, all rise. So, there it is. Fact or myth? You make the call.
  • King George II’s father, King George I, was German-born, from Hanover. (He is also the one who had that terrible time with those pesky “American” colonists who revolted.) Before the young Handel moved to England, he’d served as Kapellmeister for George (then the Elector of Hanover) in Germany before he became King of England. Once they were both in England, well, it was likely an easy choice to stay affiliated. Handel loved England, and England loved him. In 1726 he became a naturalized British subject, and when he died (on Good Friday, to boot), he was buried at Westminster Abbey.
  • Handel was in bad shape financially when he headed off to Ireland on sabbatical, but he agreed to premiere Messiah as a benefit, to help out some of the hapless inmates stuck in debtors’ prison. The benefit performance was a roaring success, and 143 debtors were released from prison. (Handel’s Irish backers kindly returned the favor by paying off some of Handel’s own London debts in return.)
  • The first London performance, a year later, wasn’t as unequivocal a success. Criticism was voiced that the work’s subject matter was “too exalted to be performed in a theatre, particularly by secular singers.” Handel tried to appease the conservatives by using a different name, calling it the “New Sacred Oratorio” instead of Messiah. Even then, however, the London reception of the production remained cool, and the oratorio was only performed three times that year instead of the anticipated six.
  • The complete oratorio of Messiah has fifty movements, but it was otherwise a modest production. In the years after Handel’s death, Messiah was adapted for performance on a much larger scale, with giant orchestras and choirs. Mozart, as well as a few other composers, played around with it, offering a fresher (at the time) adaptation. Today you can buy the Mozart adaptation, the original, an abridged version, popular excerpt version, Part I & II version. Etcetera.

I love this list on Amazon, created by “Zendok the Priest,” which offers a brief description of thirty-four top Messiah recording selections, among the many, many options available. Check ’em out.