How many book launches?

When you’re so excited abut it, let’s party! And Karl Johan Back, hero of Burn My Letters is enjoying the attention–as you can see in his Facebook page @BurnMyLetters (Burn My Letters: Karl Johan Back)

KJ Back and Orchid

Another launch at Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers Festival by festival director, Wendy O’Hanlon.

Now for book signings; Brisbane people, do say hello tomorrow at a book signing at Mary Ryan’s Book Shop, Milton.

Did you receive your copy?

Those who ordered books pre-publication should have received copies of the first book last month. The second book is on its way…Book 2 will release in March 2017. Did I say November this year? Rash…I listened to wise advice that there’s no rush. People are still reading and absorbing Book 1 of the series. Many offer interesting feedback and comments that I will integrate.

Book 2 must be as good, if not better than Book 1, so March is a more feasible option. 70 years ago, on March 6, the foundation stone was laid for the University of Queensland, on land developed by a consortium Granddad W.A.Back led. Even more relevant, it’s the centenary of the Russian Revolution, that led to the demise of the hated Tsarist regime.  It spread to Finland, leading to Finnish Independence later that year.

Thank you!

Thank you to wonderful Finnish people, both in Finland and in Australia, who so appreciate my efforts to interpret heritage and history through my books. Who have encouraged me to publish a Swedish translation in time for the centenary of Finnish Independence. To those who sang Finlandia at my Brisbane book launch with such fervour that brought tears to many eyes. To cousins, my husband Antoni, and sons, for your support.

“Mycket intressant bok. Rekommenderas!” –Stina Mellberg

“I just loved your book Burn my letters! I’d like to buy the other one as well.” –

–Annika Wiklund-Engblom

Book Signing on Saturday

Those of you in the Brisbane/SE Queensland area are most welcome to come by at Mary Ryan’s Bookstore in Milton, Brisbane between 11am-1pm for your personalised autographed copy. Or order at http://www.ruthbonetti.com/store

Or…

Books and eBooks are available via Amazon or as eBook 

Thanks for the 5 Star reviews!

After a decade of research and a lifetime’s percolating, it’s heartwarming to have all-5 star-reviews!

Enjoy the stories!

Burn My Letters fires at literary festivals

Burn My Letters launched at Byron Bay Writers Festival, launched by author Jesse Blackadder. Thanks to Captain Honey who made it possible amongst greater luminaries of the literary firmament. The Brisbane launch was uplifted by gypsy/klezmer band Greshka, and by a choir of Finns who sang Finlandia to many moist eyed listeners. Georgiana Poulter, director of the Institute of Modern Languages, University of Queensland launched it. Some footage is on Facebook.

KJ launch

Radio interview

Sibelius featured of course in the ‘My Journey in Music’ interview about this and a coming Brisbane Symphony Orchestra concert on Radio 4MBS Classic FM (103.7) repeated on Sunday 8pm. Listen via live streaming .

A Book Week talk, then next…

The Sunshine Coast International Readers & Writers Festival includes my launch in the (apt!) Smorgasbord of Authors, Saturday, 10 September.

Thanks to Suomi Newspaper for including half-page spreads in three recent issues.


Book 2 to launch in November

Midnight Sun to Southern Cross is written, edited, but needs another read through before putting it between pages. The plan is to launch in November, amidst this present whirlwind…I’ll keep you posted.

How to order?

Those who helped along the journey, and others who bought pre-publication copies should have received books by now, with international posting ten days ago. It’s now up on Amazon as eBook and of course, if you prefer an autograph, order from my website.

TwoCovers

Our first review!

Karl Johan and I are thrilled with a review on KJ’s book page

Lisa Nitschke wrote: ‘Just finished reading “Burn My Letters” and really enjoyed it! Being a teacher, I usually never read much during term time, but I got involved in the story and found it was a welcome break in the evenings to see how the story unfolded. Having recently visited Byron Bay and surrounding hinterland, I could picture KJ making his home there. Looking forward to the next book!’

It’s on the way…

Tips for music competition success

In last week’s Queensland Eisteddfod my adjudication comments often echoed an email to my students who also faced competitions.

How to prepare for a competition (or concert)

In the warmup room

• SLOW scales, long notes
• Play any tricky bars at HALF speed
• Hand on forehead and slow deep breaths calms excess adrenaline.
• Buzz lips to prevent tension squeaks (clarinet and saxophone).
• Stand against a wall for upright posture.Main illus man head LR
• BREATHE!

In the performance

Walk on with upright posture that says ‘I am the greatest!’
If people clap, bow. Prime friends to clap so you can bow.
If an MC doesn’t do so, introduce your piece in a big clear voice; look at the audience not your music.
Tune to piano/other players. Nod ‘I’m ready.’
Take a moment to poise.
Eye contact – give a clear upbeat in the tempo you really mean.
Play out with a big, round, beautiful tone.

If things go wrong

Expect your pianist to follow you. Rescue with a clear downbeat, eye contact or gesture; also to indicate if you need time for well-chosen breaths.
A glitch, wobbly bow or fluffed note is not doom.
I tell my clarinet students ‘If you squeak, make it a good one!’
KEEP GOING – DON’T STOP.
Think ‘Even though I stuff up I love and respect and appreciate myself!’

Stand out from the crowdSax crop

When many deserve places the adjudicator prays for someone to shine.

Exaggerate dynamics so the adjudicator thinks ‘ah, musical!’ Feel free to add more.

Communicate with listeners—they love that!
Play musically with beautiful tone, and above all…
ENJOY your music! Have fun!

After the last cadence

Bow and acknowledge the pianist.
Smile–whatever happened in performance is your secret.
‘I’m proud of you for learning, practising and polishing, and presenting your pieces. If you gain a place, that’s the icing on a tasty cake.’ 

Book launchBML Cover med

My latest book Burn My Letters launched at Byron Bay Writers Festival on Friday. The Brisbane launch on Saturday 13 August at Queensland Multicultural Centre is ’ticketed’ for space and catering. It’s nearly full house so do reply email if you’d like to come.

My interview on Radio 4EB FM is online for a week. Scroll through to Breakfast with BEMAC; the interview is 21 minutes in.

Books are available with Paypal and at IngramSpark and Mary Ryans bookshops.

Artwork credit: John Harrison

In last week’s Queensland Eisteddfod my adjudication comments often echoed an email to my students who also faced competitions.

It don’t mean a thing…

…If it ain’t got that swing. As the classic song goes. (Tap along to Duke Ellington.)

Or ZING. Australia’s federal election last Saturday proved a double-disillusion. It flagged questions about the communication skills of key players on the national stage. Without naming names, let’s draw lessons for all those who present through words or music.

Communicate!

Reach out to your listeners, involve them, get to know them. Before a presentation, mix with the masses in the foyer, refer to some by name during your presentation or question time.

Clarity!

Convoluted rambling puts listeners to sleep, however mellifluous the voice, however beautifully modulated and paced. It leads to misplaced expectations.

Customise!

Adapt to different audiences rather than repeat worn out text, slogans and mantras. Listen before you speak. Create fresh, relevant zingers.

Commit to being and giving your best– don’t condescend. 

Never underestimate audience intelligence and insight. They see through ego, fake sincerity, and an attitude that “it’s all about me!”

Concise!

Pithy. To the point. Less is more. It’s easier to speak (or write) long than short.

Congruent – Be yourself

People, whether as audience or voter, want to relate to real people, not puppets or figure heads. Humility and reality cover a multitude of glitches.

WE HAVE LIFT OFF! BOOK LAUNCHES – Burn My LettersBML Cover med

After many drafts, edits and proofs my next book Burn My Letters is off to the printers!

102 Main Street Kangaroo Point (free parking, ferry to Holman St. Terminal)

(Bookings essential: email 0411 782 404 or 07 33002286)

Enjoy live music from Greshka, soprano Lyn Moorfoot and Finlandia sung by Finnish singers; give-aways; author Q&A, as you sip lingonberry saft (or stronger from cash bar) and taste smörgåsar (canapés).

lloyd@sbctc.com.au

Autographed books at launch (RRP $27.99), Paypal or email for bank transfer info.

The International Connection

I’d love to include those who’ve helped me along my journey. Join us at the Brisbane launch via live streaming on YouTube/Google. Or record for later download. (SOS for techies who can make it happen!)

If you order books via PayPal we’ll absorb extra international shipping costs.

Book 2 of the saga will launch in November

BML back cover

It’s written, edited, and will release after yet more edits and proofs.

Thanks, Peter Fenoglio for the luminous covers.

Enjoy reading!

“Playing” music…for free or fee?

Some non-musicians can’t understand that because we “play” music, it’s our livelihood. That we have invested years of decades’ study to finesse our talents. That we still put hours into practice and in many cases into arranging and composing. OK, I’m preaching to the converted. But…

Practice or play?

Why not choose a positive title like “Practice Makes Perfect” someone asked when I published Practice is a Dirty Word: How to clean up your act.

I’m allergic to the words perfect and practice in the same sentence.

practiceIn it I wrote:

Let me explode a myth.
Practice does not make perfect.
Not exactly. Not always. Hey, not ever. Let’s face it, we can’t be perfect.
Even top performers cannot be perfect. None of us can be a hundred percent perfect. Trying to be so is the biggest single cause of nerves, insecurity, depression, low self-esteem. These can cause even the most capable and talented people to give up.
The whole problem is that “practice makes perfect” has been garbled and used as a whip around our ears. Who coined that phrase, anyway? No one admits to it, but the closest we can get to its origin is that the ancient Greek philosopher Periander said: “Practice is everything.” 

But what to call it? Play?

I wrestled to find another word for “practice”. Play is the closest, implying active, creative engagement. (But we know for some it means –er–lack of focus.)

There’s the pitfall…

Some can’t imagine we should be paid real money for mere PLAY.

I must offer professional fees for live musicians at the book launch.

Thank you to those who’ve supported my crowdfunding campaign.Special mention to Althea O’Dee for her heart-warming email:”Congratulations on your new writing project! You inspire me so much. I am working in China at the moment. I’d like to donate to your fund, but when I open the fund-site, it is all in Chinese. Could I donate into your bank account… and you don’t need to send anything in return? I just want to help you, since I already own a couple of your music books, which have really helped me.

We hit the goal! Now to pay musicians at book launchTwoCovers

When my books are between covers, we’ll raise a glass to my wonderful supporters. With live music of course. These talented musicians deserve REAL fees, not mates’ rates.
With extra funds I’ll book a singer and commission son André to arrange Scandinavian music to perform with his gypsy band Greshka).

Because Words and Music are my fortes

There’s a few days left support my campaign. Do check out my crowdfunding site.

Thanks for your support!

 

Words that uplift… or shame?

Words, whether written or spoken, hold great power. The defamation twins are libel (written words) or slander (spoken), i.e. false or malicious statements that damage someone’s reputation. It’s a difficult balancing act to speak our truth without offending.

What might words uncover?

Author Kate Grenville SO inspires me. Her book The Secret River has been adapted to stage and screen. When her research about ancestors uncovered uncomfortable truths, she changed the names and turned to the novel genre. As I have been advised to do by relatives, as I write my discoveries of my family stories.

Who do you think you came from?

Ancestry.com habitués might envy my dilemma: a treasure trove of letters illuminated the heritage story. How to condense into a book? The insights gained from these letters and my research are so exciting that I gave up on efforts to condense: I’ll publish two books.

They’re close to publication and I’d appreciate your crowdfunding support.

Pass on heritage before it’s too late

What more precious gift to relatives and future generations than to write a family history or memoir? Do it now, before stories and insights are lost to dementia and coffins. But first consider: for whom do you write?

Will you circulate amongst family a few copies produced at the local print shop? Or might your stories resonate with Everyman and Everywoman?

Will you present facts as a historical document, with diligent footnotes and bibliography? Or through creative nonfiction put flesh on bones, words in mouths, and look under the surface to the motivations that drove actions? If so, one writes with relatives peering over the shoulder, while wondering what flack the finished book might draw. They caution: “Change the names, write a novel, and avoid offence.”

These are REAL people

My attempts to novelise felt stilted. Why waste my treasure trove of archival letters and diminish a great story? Let the characters speak for themselves. My narrative nonfiction morphed into memoir as I discovered and interpreted stories. Accepting my role as storyteller unlocked the cage to write freely.

Black sheep and white sheep

Some families draft ancestors into pens of white and black sheep, with little variegation between. What demons drove the reprobate to that more interesting story? Avoiding all conflict makes for dull reading and robs readers of the opportunities to learn from generational patterns.

Shame on the family!

What family tree doesn’t sprout illegitimate twigs? Recent generations shrug but Great Aunt Flossie concealed scandals with hushed euphemisms for 90 years. She threatens legal action if her family name is besmirched. Living relatives cannot sue on behalf of “defamed” deceased. Australian Society of Authors membership includes legal aid but avoid pitfalls with nonjudgmental, factual reporting. 

What is truth?

Contradictions are inevitable when sifting truths from myths of oral history.
Relatives view my many-faceted Grandfather from varied kaleidoscope angles to mine. This is the paradox of history; the events of World War 1 written by people from Germany, France, England or Australia would differ, even contradict in some details.

My writing style is to look under the surface of dates, events and facts and find the persons beneath. What drove two brothers to flee their native Finland to settle at the far end of the earth? Did they struggle, away from the security of the nest?
After a decade of research, countless drafts and edits, my two books are close to publication. I hope they fulfil the calling of Psalm 102:18

“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD.”

Novel way to publish books

How to hook a mainstream publisher? That question keeps authors too busy to write their next book. We spend disheartening time on pitching, proposing, publicity. All writers know the pain of rejection.

• Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling were rejected by a dozen publishers, including Penguin and HarperCollins.

• Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times before publication.

• Orwell’s Animal Farm: “It’s impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”

• To F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You’d have a decent book if you got rid of that Gatsby character.”

TwoCovers

When some publishers are interested and enthusiastic, we’re buoyed and tread on clouds. Until we discover they’re academic or vanity press, offering little recompense for our hard work, intellectual property and writing skills. Even asking us to pay for the privilege of seeing our words between covers. Might as well self-publish.

Last year I swore I wouldn’t indie publish. Even though I have already published books for musicians and teachers through my Words and Music imprint. But I’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign for the last leg of a long journey.

Even print on demand needs outlay of funds. Thanks to my son Paul Bonetti who helped, having successfully crowd funded his second album. (You can hear my clarinet backing on a few tracks.) I’m encouraged by the successful campaign to reprint Brisbane Art Deco, which includes my contribution about my Granddad’s house in St Lucia, Brisbane. Back House main BCC-B54-1976

Granddad (W.A.Back) was a Finnish Swede who emigrated to Australia to escape conscription into the Russian army. When his black sheep brother fled in 1899, Russian military police searched for him in Suez. He dodged them and found refuge in Australia. But why did he write home to “Burn my letters?” A decade’s research found answers to such questions. 

Letter KJ Back 1899:2

A treasure trove of archival letters

I’m blessed that my relatives gifted me with illuminating archival letters. These helped me piece together the story of my forebears.

What an inspiring, empowering story!

There’s a degree of memoir as the books cover:

  • Growing up in the Australian outback
  • Schooling in Brisbane: at Ironside State School, Somerville House and University of Queensland.
  • (Granddad led a consortium that developed St Lucia)
  • Studies, research and work in London, Sweden, Finland and more during 7 years in Europe.
  • My musical and life journey

My books that tell their stories and my own journey to discover heritage are ready to go. But I need help to afford printing. Please support my crowd funding campaign so I can put my books between covers.

http://pozible.com/burnmyletters
It’s going well, but not quite safe yet!

Many thanks in anticipation!

Inspiring words

My grandfather, W.A.Back (Wilhelm Anders) died on 2 April 1974. He attended my wedding two weeks before, and wrote a personal letter to me that inspired me through our marriage and to write his story.

He wrote:

“As I look back now on our marriage at Mooball on the 4th November 1908, I can remember it as plain as if it were yesterday. The wedding was in our new home that I had finished only a few days before, and the Minister from Byron Bay came by train to perform the ceremony…”

“Just do it!”

Granddad’s advice has helped me keep going to bring his story to publication.  

A man of enterprise

Granddad was an entrepreneur, the Migrant Made Good. So I think he would have approved of my crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to publish my book.

Would you please support it? Click the above link, choose an amount and reward (books or goodies). Your account won’t be accessed until after the campaign.

 

A man of faith

He wrote that he surprised his bride with a gift of a piano—the Hart family were musical. Then they knelt at the bedside and asked God to protect, guide and bless them through their lives.
“We asked for some material blessings that in the eyes of the Lord were very small and he blessed us with very much more than ever we contemplated or asked for. If you take God into your partnership I am sure it will be even better than what you anticipate.”

Good advice, Granddad. I keep faith that this gift for my sons to know their heritage, and for family and the Finnish community, will come to fruition.

Thank you!

Find your voice to speak/write

Voices reveal all. Writers wrestle to ‘find their voice’ and that of characters.

Public pressure may cause speakers to lose resonance, even voice.

  • Tension causes tight timbre. (Tip: Hum into your head, so you feel vibration in your crown. Hum while opening your nostrils and nasal passages; and while accessing the front “mask” area of your face. Keep your throat open and posture upright.)
  • Insecurity causes ‘up talk’ or that recent trend, ‘vocal fry‘.
  • Tip: Before presenting, find your natural range with a conversational ‘aha’)

Edit, edit and more edit!

Whether you write for the ear or the eye, prune excess words and redraft. 

But my coming book cries ‘no more culls!’ But how to choose between fascinating stories? Rather than publish a brick doorstop tome, I opted for two books:

  • Burn My LettersTwoCovers
  • Midnight Sun to Southern Cross

Curb – or censor?

My characters expressed their voices in archival letters and recorded interviews. 

These and my research unearthed answers to why refugee Karl Johan Back wrote in 1899 to ‘Burn My Letters!’ Under Russian occupied Finland his words were censored. Letters that were saved from the fire uncover insights into his story–and his unique voice. 

Will you help me crowd fund the final leg of a decade long journey?
This week I launch a crowdfunding campaign to publish my next two books. I’ll post a link when it goes live. I offer rewards in return for pledges from $7 up. Books, of course. Scandinavian goodies like home-baked Finnish gingerbread. 

I’m excited! It’s countdown to campaign lift off. I hope you will come aboard. 

More on my Facebook page.

Enjoy the journey as I have done with its discovery. 

April opportunity – coaching and presentation NZ, Adelaide

As I fly there for other bookings, I can offer presentations and coaching without usual travel costs. Email for available dates. 

Ms. Crotchet calls time on tutti

Group vs. individual music lessons?

Kudos to colleagues who teach mixed groups of instruments, standards and ages as their norm. I know some who battle groups of 30 Bb/Eb clarinet and sax beginners. They’re braver than me!

So I’m blessed…

That last week, in a group of three, some Year 4 clarinet beginners managed a few opening notes of Pink Panther in their third lesson. I was as surprised as they were. With help from parents who play a little clarinet, they managed the first phrase next lesson. Are they practising? Heaps!

But I am OVER mismatched groups!

I sent an email to parents last year:Ruth + Student_6921

“Dear parents,

To best realise your child’s potential and optimise your investment, consider:

GROUP LESSONS – Pro and Con:

  • Group suits family budgets.
  • They nibble a teensy taste of music.
  • It’s sociable – if players are well matched and compatible.
  • BUT age, instruments and standards often vary.
  • Little scope for timetable changes, or adjustment.
  • 2 students in 30’ group = 15’ each.
  • 3 students in 30’ group = 10’ each. Pieces chosen for the group pace.
  • Time goes on aspects where Matt struggles but Jake plays easily.
  • Fingers twiddle while Mr. Quaver fixes a student’s bent key.
  • If a student misses a lesson that others attend, there’s no scope for make-up.
  • Exams aren’t feasible for groups with little time to cover all aspects. Ms. Crotchet talks staccato sfz, marcato, V between brows.
  • Presto to hear what students practised and give new pieces.
  • If no time to play all they prepared, why practice next week? They lose interest.

Practice dwindles > performance nervespractice

They need Ruth’s books (check the half-price deals and class sets).

Capable students stop lessons if frustrated, wasting talent and parents’ investment.

PRIVATE LESSONS

  • Negotiate timetable for premium times in break/before class.
  • Make-up lessons if 24 hours’ notice of illness or tests.
  • With teacher’s undivided attention, students move at their own, faster pace.
  • Ms. Dolce chooses pieces and styles they like, is enthusiastic, relaxed and fun.
  • Exams and competitions are well prepared, so high results are likely.
  • Students set and meet goals, enjoy challenges, realise potential and SHINE IN PERFORMANCE!”

CMP-with-shadow

Andante con momentum

It was a risk. But this year, Mrs Dolce’s schedule is full, her days long, but she emerges grazioso!