Tag Archives: Violinist of Venice

Milestones

Last week Thursday, July 16th, wound up being something of a banner day for me, though I hadn’t expected it to be so when I woke up that morning. But that was the day that I got my first galleys/ARCs of The Violinist of Venice, and by that evening I had sent off my second book to my editor.

For those of you who don’t know, galleys or advanced reader copies (ARCs) are pre-copies of a book that are printed in advance of the release date for publicity and promotional purposes. They’re not final – all the changes from first pass pages may not have been incorporated, and the cover design isn’t final – but still, the pages are typeset, the copyright page is there, and it is bound into actual book form. So this was the first time I was able to hold my book in my hands when it actually looked and felt like a book – and it smells like a book, too!

I don’t know if there has ever been a more amazing moment in my life. It didn’t hit me right away, but rather it took a few minutes. I was sitting on the couch with one of the copies, flipping through it, and suddenly I burst into (happy) tears. (My dog was quite concerned). I was holding a book, a real book, full of words that I wrote. It was a book like one you might find in a bookstore, like one of the countless books I’ve read throughout my life, except this was one that I wrote.

It was an incredible, wonderful moment. My fondest hope is that anyone who aspires to write and publish a book will one day experience that moment, because there is nothing else like it. I’m still so excited; even driving home from work today I thought back to the day I started writing Violinist, and felt that wonderful sense of disbelief and happiness and accomplishment all over again.

However, once I managed to pull myself together, I had work to do. I had gotten on quite a revising roll with my second book, which wasn’t due to my editor until the end of August. I didn’t have much more to go, so I had a feeling I could finish it that night, as I wasn’t anticipating needing to make too many changes to the last few chapters.

So I did. I finished the second draft and sent it off to my editor.

Anyone who’s a writer will know that wonderful “I-finished-a-draft” feeling, and this was even better. I had come in ahead of my deadline; I had written a book that I loved and was proud of and had worked so hard on in less time that I had thought I could; and, as you’ll know if you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, this book was a problem child almost from day one and gave me no end of problems. That it had come so far after such a difficult and frustrating start – and that I had come so far as a writer in the process – felt amazing. It still does. I’m still riding the end-of-draft-high.

And even though Violinist isn’t even out yet, I’m already excited for this second book to come out into the world, partially because it was such a struggle at times. The first step, of course, is to see if my editor likes it, but I think she will. Though it’s in a different place and time period than Violinist, it’s somewhat in the same vein. It’s still me. It’s reflective of who I am as a writer and a reader and as a woman, and of my interests. In some ways I think it’s a bit darker than Violinist, and maybe deals with some heavier themes – both of which are things I didn’t plan out ahead of time, but which emerged organically as I was drafting, and then got polished up in revision.

But that’s all I’ll say about book 2 for now.

Almost as soon as I hit “Send”, of course, my brain was asking, What next? And I’m not sure. It’s a wonderful and also slightly scary feeling to know that I can start writing something brand new, something that’s anything I want it to be. And I have plenty of ideas, believe me. I’m not sure yet which one I’ll end up going with. My plan is to give my brain a few weeks to rest and refresh itself – something I’ve found that’s always necessary for me after finishing a draft – and then I’ll see which of the ideas I gravitate towards the most.

And there’s now a copy of a book that I wrote on my desk for if and when I need a little confidence boost, a reminder, a reassurance, or just a visit with old friends.

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The Official Violinist of Venice Playlist

Here, at last, is the official playlist for The Violinist of Venice! These are all the (modern) songs that I listened to and that inspired me while writing the novel, while revising it, while editing it, while reading through it. They were added at all stages of the process – one as recently as last week, when I was reading first pass pages – and the book would not be the same as it is today without these songs. Many of them fit with a certain scene, soundtrack style, and some fit more with the overall themes of the story.

Though my love of heavy metal will be obvious here, my taste in music can be somewhat eclectic, and I think you’ll see that in these songs.

Without any further ado, here it is! Hope you enjoy! 🙂

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First Pass Pages and All the Feels

A couple days ago I finished reading through my first pass pages for The Violinist of Venice and sent them back to my editor. First pass pages are when you receive a hard copy of the manuscript that has been typeset and formatted how it will look in the actual book. Therefore this was the first time that Violinist looked like a real book, and so that was a pretty big moment in and of itself.

The point of the pass pages is for the author to go through the book again and make any small changes that still need to be made, correct anything that may have been missed in copy edits, etc. So I spent quite a while reading through the entire manuscript (it took me some time, it being a very long book). But really, I loved the experience. I haven’t simply sat down and read through the whole thing – just read it as a reader, without an eye to making changes or cutting things or revising – in over a year, since right before I began querying agents. For the first time, I was really able to read it as though it were a book, a for-all-intents-and-purposes finished piece of work, and not a work-in-progress.

It was very cool. I felt like I finally had enough distance, enough objectivity, to really see that it is a good book, that I really did pull it off and write something good. It’s strange how easy it is to lose sight of that more often than not. We writers are our own harshest critics, and so we don’t always give ourselves the credit we maybe deserve.

I tweeted some of my thoughts as I was reading, using the hashtag #ViolinistofVenice, so feel free to check that out, if you are so inclined.

I got emotional as I was reading the story, at all the right parts where I want readers to get emotional, and even with my new-found distance I couldn’t really tell if that was a genuine reaction to the text, or if it was just because this book is my baby. I’ll never be able to completely objective about it, I know. But just as there’s a moment in the book when my main character, Adriana, realizes that the music she writes really does and can mean something to other people, I realized that maybe my words could too.

Another big part of my emotional reaction to reading the pages – especially on the last day, when I finished reading and got ready to send it back to my publisher – was my realization that this was the very last time the book would be just mine, and mine alone. Soon ARCs will be printed and will be sent out into the world, for bloggers and reviewers and readers, and then the book and the story and the characters aren’t just mine anymore. That day was the last time it was just me and those words, sitting with each other at my desk. And though of course I want the book to go out into the world, am excited and proud and happy and nervous and anxious about it, it was a big deal to sort of acknowledge and be aware of that moment, and to cherish it.

My baby book is all grown up now.


Heavy Rotation: The Albums of The Violinist of Venice

I just recently finished up my copy edits for The Violinist of Venice and sent them back to my editor. Things are really moving along now!

The evening that I finished going through the copy edits, I was playing some vinyl records (newly converted vinyl devotee that I am) and without thinking about it, one of the albums I put on towards the end of my trip through the manuscript was one of the ones that I listened to the most while working on the book initially. It made for a rather emotional moment, quite frankly – especially when one of the songs came on just as I reached the scene that it went with.

Music and writing are inextricably linked for me. Perhaps this comes as no surprise, since I wrote a book largely about musicians and music and the impact of music on their lives. Yet other than the music of Vivaldi himself that inspired and is featured in the book, Violinist also has a very carefully curated (and long) playlist of modern music, by my favorite artists, that fits in with the general storyline, with a specific scene, or was just something that I listened to a lot while writing the book and so became entwined with the story.

The full playlist will be posted later, and I have lots of fun music-related blog posts and features up my sleeve for the future 🙂 In the meantime, though, my experience while copy editing inspired me to write this post about the four albums that were on heaviest rotation while I wrote Violinist.

1. Lacuna Coil – Shallow Life

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This album, by Italian heavy metallers Lacuna Coil, came out just as I really started rolling on the very first draft of Violinist. The first single, “Spellbound”, which was released before the album itself, became the perfect song for the beginning of the book, when the tension and attraction between Adriana and Vivaldi first begins to manifest itself. The album as a whole is full of heavy, urgent songs that fit well with the story in certain places.

Songs from this album on the Violinist playlist: “Not Enough”, “Spellbound”, “Shallow Life”.

2. Delain – April Rain

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This album came out in the spring of 2009, when was I deep into the first draft. I had liked Delain’s first album, Lucidity, well enough, but April Rain, their sophomore album, made them one of my favorite bands, a title they still hold to this day. I recently saw them live for the first time when they opened for Nightwish on their North American tour. If you ever get the chance to see this band, go – Charlotte’s voice is even more beautiful in person (and the band are a super nice group of guys/girl!) I’m off on a bit of a tangent now, but I was right down in front for the show, and Charlotte liked me because I knew all the lyrics 🙂

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Anyway! Delain’s music has always been, to me, both intimate and epic – and I would love it if someone were to use that same term to describe Violinist. To this day, when the song “On the Other Side” comes on, it takes me right back to the final pages of the book.

Fun fact: I use the phrase “April rain” in the first chapter of the book as a nod to this band and this album.

Songs from this album on the Violinist playlist: Most of them! “Stay Forever”, “Control the Storm”, “On the Other Side”, “Start Swimming”, “Lost”, “Nothing Left,” “Come Closer”.

3. Stream of Passion – The Flame Within

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Another summer 2009 release (believe me when I say that I was really spoiled for music that year), The Flame Within is Dutch/Mexican progressive metal band Stream of Passion’s second album – this band can’t make a bad album, I’ve found in the years since. They write some of the most gorgeous songs of anyone in the metal scene, in my opinion. Marcela Bovio’s angelic voice, coupled with the lush piano arrangements and haunting strings, all against a driving backdrop of guitars and drums, make Stream of Passion’s music a real treat to listen to. And furthermore, their songs are so rich with emotion, which make them perfect fits for a story like Violinist, where my main character goes through so very many emotions over the course of the book.

Songs from this album on the Violinist playlist: “In the End”, “Games We Play”, “This Endless Night”, “A Part of You”.

4. Nightwish – Imaginaerum

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This is the album I put on while finishing up my copy edits. Nightwish is my favorite band of all time and space, as those of you who follow me on Twitter will know. Imaginaerum, released in January of 2011 in the US, was the second and last album to feature vocalist Anette Olzon. Though Nightwish’s most recent album and their first with Dutch vocalist (and one of my idols!) Floor Jansen, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, has the title of my favorite album of all time, Imaginaerum will forever have a place in my heart. Every note of this album is burned onto my soul. By the time this album came out, I was into the second draft of Violinist, yet this album left its mark on the book in a major way all the same. So much of what Violinist currently is came about in draft 2, with this album playing in the background. The album’s themes of fantasy, storytelling, and imagination are also perfect for a writer!

Everything I ever write will have Nightwish songs on the playlist; this band is just so deeply ingrained into my life. Their music inspires me like no other band’s does; it’s epic and thought-provoking, and manages to be both beautiful and brutal at the same time. I got to meet the band before their show that I attended in April, and I got the chance to tell Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish’s keyboardist and the main composer) how much his music meant to me and had inspired me, and he seemed to appreciate my saying so. It was a big moment for me.

Songs from this album on the Violinist playlist: “Slow, Love, Slow” and “The Crow, the Owl, and the Dove”.