Sunday, December 5, 2010

Departed but not Forgotten

Today, people all over your world commemorate the anniversary of my departure from said world.  It has been 219 years since I made my transition.  Still, I am alive as ever, expressing myself through my music, which is even  more popular now that it was in my lifetime.  Ever ahead of the curve, so to speak, my music was often considered too dissonant by 18th century audiences.  Yes, I know that is difficult to believe, my friends, but I was the Bartok of my day.  I took chances with harmony.  I delighted in the untried.  I reveled in the unexpected.  And while Vienna audiences had an insatiable appetite for new music - unlike the typical concertgoers of the 21st century, I must say - it sometimes caused them to exhibit a certain fickleness when relating to their musical artists.

Let us leave the past to the past, however, and look to the present.  I am still here, my friends, and I am immensely enjoying your brave new world.  Electronic music.  Digital downloads.  Social networking.  What fun!  So much to keep my occupied as I await my rebirth via Mme. Moreno's mystery novel which feature ME as a key character.  I cannot wait to wreak even more havoc and mayhem in the world of crime fiction.

Mme. Moreno begs me to be patient while she continues the editing process with her agent.  Unfortunately, patience has never been one of my virtues.  Oh well, I suppose while I am waiting I can learn how to Tweet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Publishing in Two Cities

 Have you missed us?  Mme. Moreno and I have been enjoying ourselves in the country for the past several weeks.  So we have been remiss in keeping our blog current.  But now that autumn approaches we are both committed to do better.  

Today we have invited Donna Fletcher Crow to take over our blog.  By way of background, Donna is the author of 35 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.  The award-winning GLASTONBURY, The Novel of Christian England is her best-known work, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history.  A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, book 1 in the Monastery Murders series is her reentry into publishing after a 10 year hiatus, and today marks its U.S. publication. 

On a personal note (and I do love to get personal with the ladies) Donna and her husband have 4 adult children and 10 grandchildren.  She is an enthusiastic gardener and you can see pictures of her garden, watch the trailer for A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, and read her international blog at

Welcome, Donna!   What have you been up to this summer?

DONNA:  Thank you Mary and Amadé, it's lovely to be back with you again.  I always find an instant entry into your world, Amadé, when I hear a piece of your music, as do the characters in my books.  

I have just finished the second book in my romantic intrigue series, the Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries.  This one,  A MIDSUMMER EVE'S NIGHTMARE is set in a Shakespearean Festival with lots of wonderful references to the Bard.  Since this is meant to be a bit of a honeymoon for the newlyweds, Richard takes Ellizabeth out for a French dinner and Elizabeth enjoys her Pears Hélène to the accompanying strains of a Mozart Air.

MOZART:  Ah, Pears Hélène, one of my favorite sweetmeats!

DONNA:  And I told you last time how "your" Miserere is in the very first chapter of A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE.

MOZART:  Showing exquisite taste on your part, my dear.

DONNA:  Today, however, Mary has asked me to tell your readers what it's like working for two publishers, one in England and one in America.  I would have to characterize the delightful, sometimes frustrating and always confusing experience as being like having twins.  Let me explain:

My twin granddaughters were born eight years ago - and I clearly remember the knot of excitement that sat at the base of y throat, the desire to run through the streets shouting the news, the almost frantic wondering, "What do I do now?"  And now, here I am, at the ripe age of ...(expletive deleted)...having twins myself.  

At least, that’s what it feels like.  My ecclesiastical thriller A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, Book 1, The Monastery Murders, released in the UK on June 1.  On June 2 I received a note from my American publisher that my thought-provoking romantic intrigue THE SHADOW OF REALITY was up on Kindle and Smashwords.  “Surprise,” the doctor said.  “There’s another one in there.”

The excitement was intense; the complications perplexing.  I wanted to run through the streets of London announcing the arrival of Private Grave. Well, okay, I don’t think that’s done there.  But a launch party with sherry and truffles at Waterstone’s would have been nice.  But I’m 7000 miles away.  Likewise, I wanted to do all I could to make the launch of Shadow of Reality a success, but I’m not quite sure how one promotes an Ebook.  So maybe I’m doing all I can by blogging about it. Rather like sitting and rocking Jane while daughter-in-law Kelly fed Adela.

Actually, this dual birth will be something of a case study for the marketing experts in this brave new electronic age we’re all doing our best to grope our way through.  A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE is published by Monarch Books, an imprint of Lion/Hudson, a very traditional, established publisher in Oxford.  (You don’t get much more traditional than that.)  THE SHADOW OF REALITY is from Stone House Ink a young, new publisher whose reason for being is to “embrace the new technology.”

Monarch, holding to the old model, is reticent about bringing out Ebooks because “We don’t want to compete with ourselves.”  For Stone House the Ebook is the primary release.  Print books will follow along about Christmastime after the Ebook has made it’s mark in the world.
Monarch sells through Waterstones, AmazonUK and their own catalog.  They have given me superb editing,  postcards and a trailer (which you can see here: and a beautiful baby with a glossy cover which I love to caress.

Stone House has given me a beautiful electronic cover and a carefully edited book available in all Ebook formats with a marketing plan which focuses on setting the right price for maximum sales.
($2.99 here:

Book 2 in the Monastery Murders, A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH won’t be contracted for until sales figures are in.  Book 2 in Richard & Elizabeth A MIDSUMMER EVE’S NIGHTMARE is scheduled to release next spring.  And so the balancing act continues.

It’s a fascinating study and both publishers have been absolutely stellar to work with.  Of course, I’m trying to do everything I can to help both succeed beyond their wildest expectations. And now I’m holding my breath as the older twin A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE steps out into the big, wide world of it’s North American release in September.  After all these months of waiting, my readers in the US and Canada will no longer have to be satisfied with clicking a “pre-order here” button, but can actually get the book for immediate shipping through or through my website:

In the meantime, I have to remember that books are like children in another way.  We do our best to mold their future, but they do grow up with minds of their own and have adventures of their own which we can enjoy watching while we hope and pray for their success.

MARY:  Thank you for stopping by, Donna.   And we both wish you success with your “children!” 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Intimidation and Inspiration

Today I am turning over my blog to Mary Moreno, freelance writer, author of The Writer’s Guide to Corporate Communications, composer and aspiring novelist.  I use the term, “aspiring,” because while she has completed two novels, she has not yet published them.  Personally, I am quite annoyed with her, because her second novel (and first mystery) features mois as a key character, and I am growing impatient with the delay.  That said, I now turn this space over to Madame Moreno:

MM:  Thank you Amadé, and let me first assure you that I am doing everything in my power to polish up the manuscript so that it is worthy of your participation – which is why the editing process is taking so long. 

Writing a mystery is way different from writing memoir-based fiction and I am still learning the craft.  I’ve been busy cutting, pruning, paring, slicing, dicing and polishing, and all that takes time.  Every time I re-read my manuscript I find something more to work on.  (Truth be told, every time my agent reads it, she find something to change, as well.)  While deadlines work well for nonfiction, for fiction they just make me nervous, resulting in too much ice cream consumption.

WA:  If I may interrupt, I do love ice cream.  Back in Vienna, I would often indulge myself as a reward after the successful premier of one of my pieces.

MM:  Yes, I know, but we are talking about ME today, not YOU.  And what I want to discuss is intimidation and inspiration, because in my case, they sometimes go hand in hand.  Or back to back.

As a composer, I listen to music for inspiration and study scores for technique.  As a writer, I read for pleasure, but also for inspiration and technique.  But sometimes I get intimidated.

When I first heard Copland’s Symphony No. 3, I said, “Why do I even bother trying?  I’m never going to write something as wonderful as that.”  Likewise, Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste. 

WA:  What about my Sinfonia Concertante?  My Prague Symphony?

MM:  YES, those, too.  The point I’m trying to make is that while I first become discouraged by these works of genius, after taking some time off for therapy (walking in the park, eating pizza)…

WA:  Pizza!

MM:  I eventually make my way back to the keyboard and give it another go, all the while chanting my mantra, “progress, not perfection.”

And so it goes with my mystery writing.  I just finished reading Michael Koryta’s So Cold the River.  This man not only knows how to weave a compelling story, the language he uses to tell it is simply astounding.  EXAMPLE:  In describing an early Indiana spring, rather than just say something like, “Spring arrived early and stayed,” he writes:  “…this year spring settled in and put up its feet, and winter didn’t have much to say about it, just a few overnight grumblings of cold rain and wind.”  After reading this and many other almost poetic passages, I put my computer to sleep and took myself to an afternoon movie.  (The Girl Who Played With Fire.)

Fortunately, I woke up the next morning with my fighting spirit and my desire to be published firmly restored.  I resolved to learn from Mr. Koryta rather than be intimidated by him.

WA:  If I may just interject, I felt quite the same as you when I first saw the manuscript for Bach’s Well Tempered Klavier.  The counterpoint can only be described as a work of genius, and yes, for a moment, I, too, was intimidated.  But only for a moment, and then I went back to my composing and indeed, I saw my work take on a new dimension, due to the inspiration awakened in me by Johann.

MM:  Exactly.  Yes, I did the same thing.  I went back to my manuscript and challenged myself to do better.  To make my words sing, rather than just sit there.

WA:  Brava, Madame!

MM:  Hold the brava’s until I've finished.  I’m not done editing yet.  Now, back to work!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Monastery Murders

MOZART:  Today I am conducting my first interview with a published author. Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 35 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.  The award-winning Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England , her best-known work, is an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history.  Having spent some time in England as a child, I am quite fascinated with British history, and, may I say, most impressed with your diligence in researching it.
DONNA:  Yes, I’ve always loved history.  Mostly I write about English history, although I haven’t covered the time when you and your sister were performing in London.
MOZART:  I understand your new novel, A Very Private Grave, is being released in the UK today and will be available in the US in September.
I see here in my notes that this is the first in your Monastery Murders series.   Monastery Murders, oh my!  Indeed, an intriguing idea for a series!
Welcome to my blog, Madame Fletcher Crow.
DONNA:  Thank you, Amadeus— May I call you Amadeus?  Or would you prefer Wolfgang?
MOZART: Contrary to a popular 20th  Century movie wherein my dear wife referred to me as“Wolfie,”  I prefer to be addressed as Amadé.
DONNA:  Right then, Amadé, thank you so much for choosing to interview me today.  I’ve always been a great lover of your music, so this is a real honor for me.  As a matter of fact, in chapter one of A Very Private Grave my heroine attends a service where your Miserere is sung.  Well, of course, I know it’s really Allegri’s composition, but you gave it to the world, so to speak, by smuggling it out of the Vatican in your head.  I’ve always adored that story.  I can see why you’ll do so well in your new career as a detective.
MOZART:  Yes, I do have a photographic memory, especially when it comes to music notation.  And I love figuring things out.  But enough about me for the moment, let us return to you.
After a long career of writing historical novels, what prompted you to tackle a mystery?
DONNA:   For my Monastery Murders series I have moved from doing straight historical novels to including history as background.  It seemed like a more exciting way to tell the stories I wanted to share with my readers, and history contains so many mysteries it was quite a natural shift.

MOZART:  And what inspired you to set your mystery in a monastery, of all places?
DONNA:  Since I wanted to tell the story of the 7th century Saint Cuthbert and the mystery surrounding his burial, starting out in a contemporary monastery seemed a very natural thing to do.  Actually, my fictional monastery is modeled very closely on an actual monastery and theological college where my daughter studied.  So, once again, I didn’t really have to make up very much.

MOZART:  Tell me a bit about the two characters you created for A Private Grave - Felicity and Antony. Are they based on real life people or totally fictional?
DONNA:  Once again, true life provides the best springboards for fiction.  I started out modeling Felicity very closely on my daughter, but quickly found that didn’t work very well.  I needed a more difficult heroine and, fortunately, my daughter is absolutely lovely and much more mature than Felicity.  Growing Felicity up will be one of the fun things of the series, I believe.  Antony is much more of a composite.  There are elements of several lecturers and ordinands I’ve met while visiting my daughter in England. Some of the monks are absolutely real, too.  Although, fortunately, the real Fr. Dominic was not the victim of a brutal murder, but instead is happily tending his rose garden in the monastery.

MOZART:  On your Web site I saw the term "ecclesiastical mysteries."  Would you be so kind as to provide some background on this?
DONNA:  Yes, this is the subgenre I’ve chosen to work in because it’s what I love to read.  I love visiting old churches and I believe contemporary society is in danger of losing so much of our heritage as we let our busyness crowd out the spiritual.  I love the beauty, the peace.  I hope I can convey a bit of this to my readers.  Ironic, isn’t it, to be talking about beauty and peace while dealing with a brutal murder.  I think the contrast is part of the appeal.  Kate Charles, who is one of the best writing in the subgenre was kind enough to say that “Donna Fletcher Crow has created her own niche within the genre of clerical mysteries.”  That pleased me a great deal.

MOZART:  How much time do you spend researching your historical background for your Monastery series?
DONNA:  Oh, research is my favorite thing.  I knew I wanted to write about St. Cuthbert when I first heard of him while visiting Durham Cathedral in the mid-90’s.  In 2001 I took a pilgrimage to ancient holy sites in England, Scotland and Wales.  Many of those sites served as settings for A Very Private Grave, so you could say I researched for 10 years, but really I was doing lots of other things in that time.

MOZART:  A question for the writers out there:  Do you write from an outline?
DONNA:  In this case I certainly did, because I had the historic life of St. Cuthbert and the strange 300-year journey of his relics to follow, so the history provided its own outline.  I suppose it’s much like yourself, Amadé, the form of the piece of music you are composing has its own structure, but then the story or the melody takes over and fills in, although I could never aspire to your level of inspiration.
MOZART:  Yes, it is true, I was, and still am, touched by the hand of the Infinite.  But, I digress.  Who are your favorite mystery authors?
DONNA:  Dorothy L. Sayers and the English writers of the Golden Age are really the foundation of my reading.  I also especially enjoy those writing my own subgenre of the ecclesiastical thriller or clerical mystery.  Kate Charles, Julia Spencer-Fleming and Phil Rickman are some of the best.  P. D. James’ Death in Holy Orders is also one of my favorites.

MOZART:  And who are your favorite historical characters?  Besides myself, of course.
DONNA:  Oh, Amadé, that’s a little like asking me which is my favorite grandchild.  What is your favorite composition?  Seriously, though, I love all periods of history and my favorite characters would be which ever one I’m working with at the moment.

MOZART:  I see you've taken a 10-year hiatus from writing. What brought you back?
DONNA:  Well, I never left.  I did take a one-year sabbatical after my mother died, but other than that I was always writing.  I just wasn’t publishing.  The market changed to some extent, but mostly I changed.  I was doing a great deal of searching and study, as well as writing two nonfiction books that will remain unpublished, but they were important for my own development and I’ve already used a lot of the material from those books as background for The Monastery Murders. Perhaps somewhat like you would use themes from one composition in another.  I think that’s one of the most exciting things about the creative life— the creator must always be growing and changing in order to create.  Don’t you think that’s so?
MOZART:  Most certainly.  But tell me, after not publishing for ten years, how did you manage to get back into the game, as they say?
DONNA: As you can imagine, it wasn't easy.  Things had changed so much in that time that it was actually like starting a whole new career.  Ten years ago there was no electronic promotion, no ebooks, few websites, no Facebook, no Twitter. . .  Getting up to speed on all that has been much harder than writing the book.
MOZART:  Dear me, if you think it was difficult for you, try to put yourself in my powdered wig for a moment!  I travel from a time when there was no such thing as telephone, and now here I am in the land of social networking!  It is most certainly a different world.
My readers will want to know, did you have the assistance of a literary agent in getting your book published?  And if so, how did you find her?

DONNA: , Getting the right agent was definitely the key.  I combed the listings on and wrote to several, but kept coming back to Janet Benrey.  it wasn't until after we had signed— which was a real squeaker in itself, because her reply had gone into Spam and I almost missed her— that we talked on the phone and I discovered she is English.  Someone who really understands the story I'm telling.  She promoted me to Monarch Books— who made us wait a year while they market-tested another series in a similar genre.  The other series sold well for them, so they were willing to take me on and they have been great to work with.  It's definitely a team effort.

MOZART:  Well, congratulations, Donna.  I know it took much patience to see your book through to publication.  I admire your persistence.  And I am sure your story will inspire other writers who are waiting to see their work in print.

I wish you much success with your UK release, and hope you will return here in September when A Very Private Grave is released in the US. 

DONNA:  Thank you, Amadé.  And may I just mention that your readers can watch the trailer for A Very Private Grave, and read my international blog at 

Monday, May 31, 2010


I suppose one could accuse me of being quite lazy, as I have not created a new post since April.  Please forgive, I have been quite busy.  So much to do in preparation for my, er, resurrection.

Last week I experienced Manhattan's Little Italy with Mme. Moreno, her agent, Christine Witthohn, and two delightful authors, Michelle Maddow and Colby Marshall.  Of course no one served me any food because no one knew I was there, but there I was, yes, listening in on the stimulating conversation, mouth watering for a cannoli.

And then on Thursday, I tagged along with Mary to Book Expo America, where I was able to ascertain just how competitive the book business is!  Oh, my!  When my book gets published I do hope someone will notice me.  But then, who could fail to notice an 18th Century composer who meddles in the lives of 21st Century musicians?

Right now, Mme. Moreno and I (along with her husband) are relaxing in the Catskills, as she prepares for her next round of editing our manuscript.  And I am contemplating the interview I will be conducting soon with Donna Fletcher Crow, author of the Monastery Murders Series.  Stay tuned for more, my friends.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Revisions, revisions, revisions

Madame Moreno is making edits on her manuscript.  I personally believe it is perfect because she has added so much more of ME to the story and that can only enhance it.  But, she complains, "every time I review the MS I find something that needs changing."

I seldom found this to be true in my own writing.  My compositions were, for the most part, perfect the first time I put pen to paper.  (Yes, my dears, I wrote with a pen, not with an erasable pencil, and certainly not with a computer!)

But then, not everyone is a genius, and some of you must toil in order to achieve greatness.  So toil on, my dear, because I am most anxious to return to earth.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Johann

Today we celebrate the birthday of J.S.Bach!  Although I never met the maestro - on earth, that is - he was a tremendous musical influence on me, most especially after I discovered his Well-Tempered Klavier, which improved my counterpoint immensely.   If I weren't hovering between my current home and yours (it does look quite beautiful in New York City this morning), I would be joining the entire Bach family for pastries and baroque dancing this  evening.  As it is, I shall merely hover, and perhaps listen in on one of the many performances of Johann's music that are taking place all over your world today.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


My debut seems to be taking much longer than I had anticipated.  Mme. Moreno is now editing her manuscript, but the good news is, she is giving me an even more prominent role in her story. So I must forgive her for that.  I am a bit miffed, however, that she is occasionally taking time out to write a piano sonata.  Not that I consider her to be competition, but I do wish she'd concentrate on me exclusively.

My Dear Mr. Mozart, 
I'll never be able to compete with you in composition arena, but writing music inspires me to be more creative when I write about you. So I pretty much do concentrate on you exclusively - but don't tell my husband! xo, Mary

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More on the Journey

Well, it would seem that this is going to be an extensive journey.  Not, perhaps, as uncomfortable as my coach travels between Vienna and Prague, but demanding nevertheless.  My friend, Madame Moreno, is now involved with editing her manuscript in preparation for submission to publishers, and I must say, I am quite pleased because she is "pumping up" my presence on her pages.  Ah yes, it is going to be a glorious read.  But meanwhile, I am hovering here between heaven and earth, observing the puzzling goings-on of 21st Century Manhattan.  More snow on the way, they say...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Step Closer!

Glorious news!  I am now one step closer to taking up residence on Planet Earth once again.  The novelist (see photo at left)  who is assisting me in my transition has just signed a contract with a superb literary agent.  Madame, pardon mois, Ms. Christine Witthohn, of the Book Cents Literary Agency will soon be presenting me to publishers (is this similar to being presented at court?)  and I am so hoping that one (or more) of them will find me as appealing as my European audience did in the 18th Century.  Bravo, Ms. Witthohn, I am placing my faith in you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Can anyone lend me a greatcoat?

Brrr...I'm hovering over Manhattan and there appears to be snow on the ground.  Alas, I am clothed in only my silk breeches and brocade waistcoat.  I do wish I could cozy up in front of a fireplace right now!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Punch and mint chip ice cream, oh my!

Oh my, it was a superb birthday!  Truth be told, I am still recovering.  Along with my punch I enjoyed two scoops of mint chip ice cream, a flavor we did not have in my day.  As you can see, I have mastered the mysteries of JPEG and posted my picture.  A painting, actually, created by my brother-in-law, Joseph Lange in 1789, and never completed.  I believe it captures my soulful nature, do you not agree?  Joseph, alas, married my first love, Aloysia Weber.  So what was I to do but wed her sister, Costanze?  (Is it any wonder that I adore opera?)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

On this day in the year 1756 I, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was born into your world, and oh my, what a wonderful life I did pursue! Alas, I was compelled to take my leave long before I would have wished, and I departed with much of my music still unexpressed. Still, the knowledge that the music I did compose over two centuries ago is still listened to and appreciated keeps me alive and vibrant over here on the “other side.”

It has recently come to my attention that a certain New York novelist and composer is attempting to bring me back to life via her writing, and I must say, I applaud her desire to do so. I have made the decision to assist her in any way I can. I am therefore educating myself in the phenomenon of social networking, hence this blog through which I intend to track her efforts to celebrate my life and to hopefully involve me in yours.

So “stay tuned,” as your contemporary pundits might say, and check back frequently to see how my re-entry into your world progresses. And meanwhile, let us all enjoy a glass of punch to celebrate my birthday. I am enormously fond of punch.