Category Archives: Beatrice Schirmer

On genre – Thriller vs Romantic Suspense

MG 5x8The launch of Match Games is coming ever closer. And the question of genre is becoming evermore pressing. Amazon categories. Where to start?

How I would love to call it a thriller.
But it’s not.
Yes, it’s fast and furious in places.
Yes, there are car chases, beatings and blood.
There is betrayal, crime and backstabbing.
But, according to a lot of research, a thriller it is not.
A thriller starts with a bang.
Match Games starts with a stack of newspapers and several pints of lager.
In a thriller the audience knows who the baddie is virtually immediately.
In Match Games…well, the baddie is multi-facetted.
In Match Games we stumble along with Lukas in his laborious search.
Apparently, it’s more like … a mystery.
Suspense, certainly.
Like what I always thought a thriller to be.
The search for the baddie.But then there’s love.
And some romance, unexpectedly.
And now everybody shouts at me: “If there’s love and they are still together at the end, it’s got to be categorised as ’Romantic Suspense’!”
Oh no!
It’s definitely not some soppy romance.
Confused, I turned to my author friends online.
And then I saw sense.

Just because there’s love in it somewhere doesn’t mean that it must therefore be called romance. If a story contains humans (or even aliens), then there will be love. It’s part of life. To cut it out would make it sterile. Even Reacher occasionally feels something.
What determines a romance is the plot: if you can remove the love interest and there’s still a story, then it’s not a romance. In a romance the potential love interest is introduced almost immediately. The story is about them getting together, period. Two people, getting together, with something in the way. Match Games doesn’t do that. The first thing that’s introduced is a mystery, and a potential crime. No female in sight.

If love happens later as a result of other things, it’s not romance. It’s important to get that understanding right, because romance readers are not patient ones, and they’re incredibly vocal. If they feel betrayed, the backlash is insane, apparently. A romance reader wants a story about two people struggling to get together, and they MUST have a happy ending. Always. And that happy ending better involve the two people, in each other’s arms, happily ever after.

There is no realism or real life in romance.

With this advice in mind I will list Match Games in the following categories:

FICTION > Mystery & Detective > International Mystery & Crime
FICTION > Thrillers > Suspense
A huge thank you to Melinda vanLone for her contribution to this article.
What is your favourite fiction author?
What genre do you enjoy reading and why?
Please drop me an email and share your thoughts with me schirmerbea@gmail.com
If you like this post please consider sharing it via the services below…

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Filed under Bea Schirmer, Beatrice Schirmer, diary of a novel, Match Games

NaNoWriMo Novel finished – The HemiHelix Effect Episode 1

NaNoWriMo Day 27 – The Novel is finished!!! rubber band43565 words. You can read chapters 1-19 following the links below. I’d LOVE some feedback!
The final eight chapters are available for you to read too, but may I ask you to directly contact me for them, either here or email me at schirmerbea@gmail.com or sign up in the box at the top right or at the bottom.
Also available directly are the linking chapters between this novel and The HemiHelix Effect Episode 2 – “Displacement” (working title)
All this is for copyright purposes only, as this is an unpublished, unedited novel, I hope you understand.
I would love to have some feedback as to how you have liked the story and any suggestions you have in improving it.
With very best wishes and hoping to hear from you soon,
Bea
Here are the links:
http://www.wattpad.com/79792874-rubber-band-the-hemihelix-e
http://www.beaschirmer.com/?page_id=73

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Congo Calling Shostakovich

shostakovich_tullypotterOn Music Through Muddle
(thank you, Pravda!)

In 1936 Dimitri Shostakovich first fell from favour with the Russian authorities. The Soviet newspaper Pravda described the music in his opera Lady Macbeth as “Muddle Instead of Music”.
Clearly this arrogant remark was aimed at destabilising and tarnishing Shostakivich’s image; it succeeded  entirely. He received an official ban which Shostakovich was persuaded to present as a voluntary withdrawal of his 4th Symphony. Whatever the case, it seems possible that this action saved the composer’s life: during this time Shostakovich feared for himself and his family. He  was forced to lay low and it wasn’t until the release of his 5th symphony that he regained favour.
“I’ll never believe that a man who understood nothing could feel the Fifth Symphony.” Was Shostakovich’s reaction to the enthusiastic reception Stalin gave the symphony.

Perseverance is the daily staple of the artist. For most, daily stretches to weekly, monthly and yearly.  A classical musician in a professional symphony orchestra will have done on average fifteen years of practise, up to eight hours a day (more if you’re a pianist) to reach the standard expected in the profession today.

Pravda’s “Muddle Instead of Music” is especially insulting as it suggests that no editing process has been applied to “Lady Macbeth”; as if the opera is just a rough first draft brainstorm and has been presented as such to the audience. This arrogant assumption is what hurts the artist most; not the criticism of his art, but the assumption that he hasn’t honed his work to the absolute best that he can deliver before launching it to the general public.

Shostakovich, like any other composer, will have grown his work through a painstaking, deliberate process. Pravda’s choice of words is interesting, but back to front; applied to the works of any creative artist “Music Through Muddle” would be a more appropriate description of the creative process.

Just like Audi’s slogan “Vorsprung Durch Technik” – Advantage Through Technology – “Music Through Muddle” suggests there is a  process through which a result is achieved. Or in Audi’s case, an advantage being achieved through a process.
Just like a crescendo to forte starts as a  piano and is a homogenous process unless marked otherwise, any work of art starts as a muddle. Be it a music composition, a sculpture or a block buster novel with international film rights: it’s started with some diffuse idea somewhere at the back of someone’s mind.

In 1994, ex-professional pilot Armand Diangienda had an idea.
(and now I hand over to my colleague Cheryl Law for this week’s guest post):

Mention of the Democratic Republic of the Congo may evoke thoughts of a nation struggling in the shadow of civil war and poverty, but over the last 20 years a remarkable musical feat has been achieved in the sprawling metropolis of Kinshasa, Africa’s third largest city and home to 9 million people.

It all started in 1994, when former professional pilot, Armand Diangienda, launched Central Africa’s only symphony orchestra in his home, with 12 wannabe musicians and not quite enough instruments.  Today L’Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste is a huge success story, with one international tour already under its belt, and its UK debut took place on 11th September 2014 in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, in a ground-breaking collaboration with the Hallé.

For the musicians of OSK, life is not always easy.  Brought together by the love of music-making, many of the orchestra’s members struggle to make ends meet.  Innovative improvisation is a part of everyday life and their gritty commitment to their art is frankly admirable.  There’s the viola-playing electrician and hairdresser, who is frequently called upon to fix the lights in rehearsals, and the cellist who gets up at 5 am to sell omelettes in the local market before walking for hours to rehearsals which can go on late into the evening. Some play on home-made instruments, and they ad lib when things go wrong; modelling violin strings from bike brake cables, and copying scores out by hand.

Diangienda’s dream to build a symphony orchestra has come a long way since he turned his home into a make-shift conservatoire, and last year he was awarded membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society, an honour previously bestowed on the likes of Brahms and Mendelssohn. It’s well deserved; injecting hope into the lives of people struggling with incessant daily challenges, Diangienda has, in one of the world’s poorest nations, created riches that money could never buy.

The BBC will show the documentary of the visit in a progamme airing on BBC 4 on Sunday 16th November 2014 – Congo Calling – An African Orchestra In Britain

The Hallé are performing Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony tonight and Sunday night 13th & 16& Nov 2014)  at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Thank you for reading!
Bea

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QuizTime! Do you have what it takes to be a professional bass player?


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Diary Of A Novel – Day X + 2 ( do not skimp on editing!)

image“Match Games” is still at the editors. And I am realising that this “Diary” is probably going to be more of a “Weekary” as work has started to get really busy again in the run-up to Christmas!
But progress on the adventure of the steep learning curve of presenting “Match Games” on my site is being made.

And once again I realise the importance of professional editing

The really big hurdle was the 20000 words or so I got back from my editor with the merciless order to CUT, CUT, CUT! “How?” I screamed silently in the middle of Sibelius 2nd Symphony, the loud bit. It read perfectly to me. Then I read it again. The bit in the cave. Lukas Novak’s nemesis. It was too long, she was right. It was tedious in places, she was right! It was really interesting to people who know the cave well, like myself and two of my beta-readers. But to the rest of the world? To all those people that are (hopefully) going to read “Match Games”?
It’s just another cave.
I cut it back harshly. And read it again. It hadn’t lost impact. On the contrary. It was tighter and had more pace.

Once again I told myself do not skimp on editing in the future! I had skimped on my own editing, sent it to a professional editor far too early. I should have done more edits myself. I did three. Five would have been better. Lesson learned.

Technical problems solved and ideas developed since last post

  • I’ve been doing an online newsletter course with the wonderful Dan Blank and a host of inspirational people. With the help I am getting on the course I have developed a much better sign-up form (still via wufoo), see right.
  • At the bottom of each post there now is a second sign-up possibility.
  • I have signed up with shareaholic and registered to unlock additional features (it’s free). As a result  “share” buttons are now showing at the bottom of each post, automatically. Share buttons also now float at the right hand site of the website, which looks really neat.
  • A further shareaholic feature are occasional “you may also like” suggestions at the bottom of some posts. I have not worked out how and when they appear. It’s on the to-do list. I need to optimise the images used for these previews.
  • The biggest achievement of the week has been developing my first quiz, “German For Outlanders” – German for foreigners, through Qzzr.com . Another steep learning curve!Oh yes, and here is a great template for writing good blog posts 😉
    See you soon, please sign up below for updates.

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Quiz-time! – Today: “German for Outlanders”

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Unsung Heroes Of The Orchestra – Cheryl Law’s Guest Post

Mark and Jeff

The Hallé’s own Mark & Jeff

Each time I go on tour I am reminded of the unsung heroes of travelling orchestras.  They don’t take a bow, but behind every successful tour is a slick operation that happens as if by magic. It begins days before the musicians have even boarded the plane, when thousands of pounds worth of precious instruments, music and music stands are carefully packed into reinforced trunkers, loaded onto a lorry, ferry or plane, and finally driven hundreds of miles, across borders, through the night, and intostrange cities.

The drivers of these lorries are the linchpins of an orchestral tour. As well as being HGV drivers, Stage Managers of orchestras have to negotiate unfamiliar laws which prevent lorries from driving on foreign motorways or cities on Sundays, because concerts happen on Sundays too. They check the trunkers to make sure they only contain what they are supposed to, and not stray books, clothes, shoes or even wine (yes that did happen once) which might cause them delays at borders. Sometimes they don a smart DJ to move a piano mid-concert, and they probably know how many cello desks there are in a Beethoven piano concerto and how many trumpets in Strauss’s Til Eulenspiegel.

Touring is a fantastic experience for musicians, and the excitement of playing in foreign concert halls is exhilarating. However, once we leave a concert platform most of us don’t spare a thought for what happens next, but, working when the orchestra rests, Stage Managers are always one step ahead of us in our schedule. As we hunt out a “tour bar”, their workday is recommencing on stage, starting with dismantling the magnificent orchestral set. The lorry is carefully reloaded, driven through the night and, hours before the orchestra arrives, unloaded again and a new stage set, ready for another concert in another hall, and so the cycle starts again.

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The Digest From Old SlopsHop

lion_ed

where sheep are up high in the meadow,
ears to the ground

 

The sheep have been up high in the meadow all week, keeping themselves to themselves. Nobody really knows why they are up there. But then nobody really knows what motivates sheep anyway, deep inside. It may have been that the weather has been unnaturally warm for this time of year and that the grass is sweeter up there after the heavy September rains.

Elsie Sidebottom has seen the ghost again, up by the planes. This is of course utter nonsense. But Elsie is adamant, as the rest of the Sidebottoms have been for years, that there is a ghost up on the moors. That in fact it has always been there, even before the plane crashed. One of the Sidebottoms, from the Brookhouses branch, recently told the Winterbottoms, who are by nature scared of ghosts and that kind of thing, that there wouldn’t have been a plane crash in the first place, if it hadn’t been for the ghost. Since then little Carl Winterbottom imagined the ghost to be some kind of a very tall, bearded man, holding a powerful lantern up into the night skies above Bleaklow. Carl worried about this a lot when he and his family returned from Magaluf last week and descended low over the Dark Peak on their approach to Manchester airport.

Old Tom Hollingworth had other concerns than a measly ghost. He was just keen to get up to the planes before the fell runners did. Tom despises fell runners. He told Liz Blackshaw once, when she offered him a glass of water outside her cottage, saying he looked parched, that these mountains are supposed to be a serious, all day challenge, that should leave One marked and that etches itself deeply into One’s face, should One accepted it. The mountains are not some outdoor gym, built for a quick half an hour jaunt up and down before breakfast.

Therefore, on Tuesday, Old Tom left at seven, without breakfast, not at his usual eight o’clock and stumbled over Rasta Whyley. Rasta was sunning himself early in a blissfully Human-free environment, on the back step, when Tom rudely kicked him out of the way. Rasta felt once again that Human should be more considerate. After all Human is only an employee. Rasta hissed and half-heartedly clawed at Tom’s battered boots. As always he did not bother with a losing fight when he encountered one. No point getting involved. He knew exactly where Human keeps his ham. How human of Human to think that the cupboard was out of Rasta’s reach. Just because human needs a stool! Rasta didn’t even bother looking back, but keenly listened to the increasing distance of Human’s hurried footsteps.

The cricket pitch is being prepared for next weekend, now that the season is over. Much to the annual disgust of the Mindy Alport, landlady of the Saracens Head, who hates plums at the best of times. She’d much prefer the sheep dog trails to take place here, not up the road, in Coalby. After all, the sheep graze high in SlopsHop’s meadows, not Coalby’s. Why move them out of their natural habitat? No wonder the poor buggers looked confused last year, panicking up and down Coalby Manor’s manicured lawn to the sound of Les Gillespie’s shrieking whistle which made his mangy sheepdog Lola howl in agony. No wonder Les came last. Still Mindy would much prefer to watch him torture the sheep than endure the plum pie bake off.

She said as much to Old Tom as he strode past the pub, on a mission, as usual. Tom mentioned in no uncertain terms that he was not looking forward to the fell race and the ensuing piss-up afterwards. Only Mindy could have sworn he’d expressed this in two words, both starting with the letter ‘F’.

Dark Peak traffic update: due to congestion at Pikenaze Hill the air quality in the whole of the Smalldale Valley continues to be poor for the time of year. Residents are advised to keep windows shut. The constant congestion is caused solely by the volume of traffic passing through the valley. Local politician Max Overeight, of the United Kingdom Independent Liberation League, voiced the opinion of the people clearly at last week’s Council in the Nag’s Head, Old SlopsHop. The bypass was needed. Urgently. Now. The community did not care about a couple of bluebells. No wonder UKILL are gaining support in the area. By the time Max got round to mentioning that the new housing estate at Dipdale had been given the go-ahead by Parliament, after previously being rejected at local authority level, most of those present had sampled too much of the local ale to quite notice what this meant for their daily commute.

Weather outlook: The areas microclimate continues to contradict the national average. Rain is expected at times, with sunny spells in between. It remains unnaturally warm for this time of year.

This concludes today’s digest from Old Slopshop, in the Dark Peak, here sheep are up high in the meadow, ears to the ground.

next issue

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The News From The Back Shelf #1

It’s been a heavy couple of weeks on the back shelf at the world famous symphony orchestra that I am privileged to play with. We opened the season last Thursday with a fabulous performance of ‘Daphnis and Cloe’ by Ravel, full forces and the angelic voices of the chorus to spurn us on to fantastic heights (Go here for an interview about the piece with our principal flute). Viktoria Mullova outplayed us all in Shostakovich’s 1st Violin Concerto. The concert was well received with a lot of students and new faces in the very appreciative audience. Thank you, Siemens, for supporting us!

We took the Shostakovich (and Ms Mullova) to Leeds on Saturday, padded it out with Wagner’s ‘Flying Dutchman’ Overture and substituted Daphnis with Sibelius 5th Symphony, a staple in our repertoire. We will be taking “Den Fliegenden Holländer” to Germany on tour next March. The Maestro seems very excited about this; we think he likes taking German music to Germany on tour. He also likes taking English music to Germany on tour, but for some reason, until quite recently, the German audiences didn’t seem to be too keen on it. In March we will be taking the Enigma Variations, Elgar’s absolute blockbuster. The Germans love this one. Even my father.

We did work on Monday this week, which is rare. Monday is our Sunday, normally. Which is great for shopping. Not so good for going out for a meal. The reason for the rehearsal day was that we needed yet another symphony for the Manchester concerts this week and yet another concerto for Nottingham on Tuesday.
What a reception we had in Nottingham! The hall was sold out (or at least it looked it, from the back shelf) and the audience loved it. Paul Lewis performed a wonderful Brahms 1st Piano Concerto (and will continue to do so tonight and Sunday), the Dutchman appeared again and we gave another smashing performance of Sibelius 5, judging by the reaction of the audience. What a treat to play to such a full hall!

Yesterday afternoon we opened this season’s the Opus One Series with the Brahms and Dvorak’s 8th Symphony. Fantastic to see that the matinee audiences are growing!

With regards from the back shelf, come and see us some time!

BEA

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ALEAtronic & marbelious finally on Amazon.com

ALEAtronic’s debut album “First Take” and marbelious’s collection “Almost Yours” have finally been released on Amazon.com through CreateSpace.

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