*squeeing internally*

So in addition to the incredibly kind folks who have reviewed RISK A VERSE: A Year in Daily Sonnets on Amazon and Goodreads (THANK YOU!!), my book received its first professional review from Kirkus Reviews, and it’s almost entirely good! And the criticisms (i.e., that the annotations tend to over-explain and that there’s a penis joke sonnet) are honestly the sorts of things that will appeal to certain readers, so I am absolutely thrilled! Here’s the take-away blurb:

An ambitious poetry collection that will defy readers’ preconceptions of what a sonnet can be. –Kirkus Reviews

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You can read the full review online here, or you can pick up a hard copy of the July 1st, 2018 issue of Kirkus Reviews, because the editors selected it to be a featured indie book review in that issue!

tenor

Fewer than 10% of indie books they review get featured in print, so this is not a small deal. And the timing could not be more awesome, because July 1st is the day that Publisher reports that industry-standard institutional pricing goes live at Ingram, which means that any morbidly curious acquisitions staff at libraries and bookstores whose interest is piqued by the bonkers verse memoir that got written up in Kirkus Reviews will be able to easily order a copy or twenty.

This feels real. I like it.

In other news, my choirs are winding down for the season, after our final “Building Bridges Spanning Water” concerts with SACRA/PROFANA in May (review here!), getting to play an obnoxious, doomed Gossip (and thunder sheet!) in All Souls’ Episcopal Church’s production of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde in early June, and singing on the West Coast premiere of Mozart’s incidental music for Thamos, King of Egypt with the all-star Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra last week (review here!). I have some fun Bayside Summer Nights concerts with the San Diego Symphony coming up (Star Spangled Pops this weekend, Gershwin on Broadway in August),  and I’m delighted to be joining the St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral Schola for summer Evensong services (videos/live stream info here!), which is always a joyful experience full of glorious music with good music friends.

July is also a special month because it means I’ll be descending upon the midwest with a dozen other wordsmiths for our annual writer’s retreat, and as much as I love all the singing I get to do, I am really looking forward to spending a week doing nothing but writing. Now that RISK A VERSE exists in real-actual book form, I can start thinking about my next big writing project… after I finish polishing my submission for an upcoming short story anthology for Story Spring Publishing, that is! *smiles innocently at editor*

Love to All,

Libby

Risk a Verse: A Year in Daily Sonnets by Libby Weber

Deeply touched and THRILLED by Lorrie’s kind words about my Snape sonnet!

Lorrie Kim

The Prince

From squalid soil a shriveled sapling sprang,

Which grew into a convoluted tree,

Whose listless leaves from blackened branches hang,

And twisted shape compels the birds to flee.

It gives no shade or succor to the tired,

And bears no fruits or flowers on its limbs.

Abhorrence and disquiet it inspires,

Except in those who offer it a hymn.

For though the tree fell many seasons past,

In falling, it revealed its fortitude,

For fire, disease, and drought did it outlast,

And by its loss, the forest was renewed.

And in the spring, when sunshine melts the snows,

Within its limbs, a silver lily grows.

I first encountered Libby Weber because of a shared interest in Snape. Over years of enjoying her writing, I was impressed by her deftness with poetry and the consistently high bars she challenged herself to clear, just for fun. I don’t know how…

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It’s here! It’s here!

My book, RISK A VERSE: A Year in Daily Sonnets is officially available for purchase on Amazon!

I checked with my publisher, Burrito Books, about the best place(s) to purchase the book, and they encouraged me to shoo people to Amazon, though people/business interested in bulk purchases should contact them. Their plan is to get an e-book version on Kindle and other platforms within the next months, but for now, it’s available in paperback only, So shoo! Shoo!

I am thrilled that after all these years preparing and editing the manuscript, my crazy year of sonnets is actually a book!

Funny, having the book out feels a lot like posting my final sonnet of that year: deeply satisfying to have successfully finished, but also exciting to move on to the next thing. And I certainly have a number of irons in the creative fires! But today? I’m taking it easy. Because putting a cap on a project of nearly four years is not something one does every day. Also, I have a cold and would strongly prefer not to be coughing up a lung during my final rehearsals for next weekend’s performances.

So yeah. Situation normal.

Love to All!

Libby

The sonnet book is out on April 23!

AAAAH YOU GUYS I HAVE A RELEASE DATE FOR THE SONNET BOOK!!!

*runs flailing squeefully about*

“Risk A Verse: A Year in Daily Sonnets” will be released by Burrito Books on April 23, 2018!

APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH AND THE 23RD IS THE ANNIVERSARY OF SHAKESPEARE’S DEATH!

HOW AMAZING AND PERFECT IS THAT??

And here is another image of the front cover because it’s so beautiful I could cry!

Small Front cover for WordPress

They also asked me some questions about the book and writing and editing, so if you’d like to see me yammer at length on such topics, here ya go!

I will update this page with a link for purchase as soon as I have it.

Apologies for the lack of coherence and meaningful commentary–I’m just so thrilled that after four years, the sonnets that I first published ON THIS VERY BLOG are going to be a real, actual book with pages (406!) and a (GORGEOUS) cover and more footnotes than you can shake a stick at!

Love and Joy to All!

Libby

A Musical Interlude

I’m still anxiously awaiting the release of my sonnet project book, Risk a Verse: A Year in Daily Sonnets, which Burrito Books will be releasing soon, but am happily distracting myself with loads of music!

One particularly fun experience was performing a whole concert of new arrangements of Carole King’s music with SACRA/PROFANA, including a performance of my first-ever arrangement for choir. Back when we first started planning the first half of the concert, which was covers of Carole King songs that were written for other artists, I asked the conductor how outré he wanted to get with the arrangements.

“What did you have in mind?” he asked.

“Something arranged as a madrigal?

“Go for it!”

So I did! After glancing through the list of suggested tunes, I called dibs on “The Loco-Motion,” a song that Kylie Minogue made famous when I was a kid, though many other artists have covered it before and since. I knew I wanted to set the song in a fast three and feature layered lines, hemiola, and terraced dynamics, but having never having studied arranging, I did some digging for madrigals that sounded like what I wanted my Loco-Motion madrigal to sound like. I eventually settled on John Farmer’s “Fair Phyllis,” and cribbed enthusiastically. My friend Ken, who is an amazing arranger, pronounced the arrangement solid and helped me fix some of my n00b mistakes, like inadvertently crossing voices.

My biggest fear was that I would be the only person who thought it was hilarious. Fortunately, this proved not to be the case. After introducing the song as “a great hit of the 20th century re-envisioned as a great hit of the 17th century,” the audience guffawed throughout the piece at both performances, which was a delight and a relief.

Kenneth Herman, my favorite local music critic, had this to say in his review of the concert:

For sheer invention and wit, Libby Weber’s setting of “Locomotion” in the style of a Renaissance English madrigal easily won top honors. She broke up the text into cheery snippets layered with typical madrigalesque echo effects, allowing Sacra/Profana’s singers gleeful, if mildly indulgent, exaggeration.

I may have deafened my next-door neighbors with squee upon reading that. I was also delighted that several of Ken’s arrangements also got love, as did my friend Colin, who set my poem “Three Bridges and a Fence” for SACRA/PROFANA’s Summer Choral Intensive (hear it here).

Alas, there is no video of our Carole King performances, but if you’d like to see an extremely unofficial video of us rehearsing my silly piece, here you go.

In other news, the kick-off for Willan West 2018 went spiffingly the following weekend, and bless him, Kenneth Herman also had nice things to say about that, as well!

Like Valenzuela’s Bach Collegium San Diego choral ensembles, his Willan choir displayed unfailing sectional unity, crystalline pitch, and superb textual clarity… Especially in the Willan motets, Valenzuela favored the brightness of his sopranos, which added an appreciable emotional edge to this music.

*does happy bright soprano dance*

I have received some less-than-enthusiastic reviews for some past concerts, so getting two great reviews in as many weeks is pretty freaking awesome!

Now, if I can just keep my head in the game for this weekend’s Building Bridges Between Nations concerts, which features Benjamin Britten’s brilliant Sacred and Profane and two fiendishly difficult but hugely rewarding movements from Ernst Krenek’s Lamentatio Jeremiæ Prophetæ (with a bit of Victoria sandwiched in between), I will be so very happy!

Looking forward to having more good news to share in the coming days!

Cheers,

Libby

For Better, For Verse

Happy New Year, One and All!

I have so much exciting stuff to report, but I should probably lead with this: a book containing all the sonnets I posted here during my year-long sonnet-writing project will be released in April! The pieces have been gently edited and lovingly annotated, so there’s quite a bit of content that will be new, even to those who followed the project in real time. Here’s a draft of the front cover of Risk a Verse: A Year in Daily Sonnets, published by Burrito Books!

RiskAVerseCoverDraft

ISN’T IT GORGEOUS? I am so excited!

The book will be released on April 23rd, 2018 and purchase info will be posted here as soon as it’s available. You won’t be able to avoid it, really. 😀

In other exciting news, I’m going to be participating in Willan West 2018, a year-long celebration of the music of Anglo-Canadian composer, Healey Willan. In addition to singing on a number of the performances, I will also be running a Limerick contest for the kick-off party on January 12th, since Willan was a huge fan of the verse form.

So that’s enough to be starting with, I think. Look for more frequent updates this year, with lots of niftiness upcoming!

Smooches to All!

Libby

Eeee! Now with video!

So that piece of music for which I wrote the lyrics that was premiered earlier this month at SACRA/PROFANA‘s Summer Choral Intensive?

SACRA/PROFANA posted a video of the performance!

 

Don’t the combined choirs sound amazing?? And isn’t Colin’s music gorgeous?? I am filled with joy and squee and excitement! I think Colin and I were very much on the same page creatively: my decision to use five-line stanzas and connect the stanzas with rhyme was influenced by Robert Frost, and I sometimes heard shades of Randall Thompson’s Frostiana in the setting, for all that the music has discrete moods that range from contemplative chant to a musical flood that captures some of the violence and defiance of the text spectacularly. *bounces* I LOVE IT!

In other news, I have nearly finished integrating my third round of edits on the book o’ sonnets, so it’s looking like I may actually have an actual book to announce by the end of the summer! I will be sure to keep y’all posted on that. You won’t be able to avoid the news, honestly. Heh heh heh.

But seriously, I love this book so much, but I’m getting tired of looking at it. According to the YA authors’ panel I attended at Comic-Con, being sick of looking at it is how you know it’s ready to send out in to the world. Brace yourself, world. SONNETS ARE COMING.

Love to All,

Libby

Wordy Pursuits

I’m back, fresh(ish) from my annual writer’s retreat in Michigan! I’ve had to miss the past two due to performance conflicts, so this one was especially needful. The house wasn’t the most comfortable we’ve had, but it was bright and airy, only a few steps from this glorious stretch of beach.

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Despite walking to the beach for many lovely sunsets and moonrises amidst the fireflies, I escaped with only about ten mosquito bites, and I’m pleased to report that I’m still immune to poison ivy. W00t!

Happily, I managed to finish two writing projects during the week, though my poor old netbook wasn’t up to working on the huge file that is The Book Manuscript, so integrating formatter comments shall be my project for the rest of the month, when I’m not singing and/or attending Comic Con.

In exciting writing news, I had the pleasure of collaborating with singer/composer/arranger Colin Barkley on a commissioned work for professional chamber choir SACRA/PROFANA‘s 2017 Summer Choral Intensive, and our piece “Three Bridges and a Fence,” for which I wrote the lyrics, was premiered on Saturday at the SCI final concert. It was such a joy to hear words I’d written  delivered in song by such a dedicated and talented group of young singers!

Colin and I were asked to create a piece of music to fit the ninth season’s theme, which is “Building Bridges,” and the idea that we both liked the best was an autobiographical work based on bridges built over the creek in the woods behind the log cabin in which I grew up.  So without further ado, here it is:

Three Bridges and a Fence
By Libby Weber

Along a twisted barbwire fence
The old road ran in father’s father’s day,
But now the only evidence
Remaining is a wreck of brick and steel
Where children’s play made rusted culverts ring with mirth.

The road was swallowed up by trees,
As disuse preordained.
Though purpose fades in memories;
The barbwire fence remained.

Upriver from that broken bridge,
A footbridge father built was washed away.
That span connecting ridge to ridge
Was dashed to bits; diluvian ordeal
That spread its splinters where the saplings grow in girth.

That bridge was swallowed by a flood
And barbwire snapped in twain,
Though rotting plank feeds swelling bud,
The barbs will still remain.

And now my brother’s handiwork
Of golden lumber trusses, crossed today
On wanderings through shady murk
Now spurs its crossers’ fancies to reveal
What bridge will stand when barbwire fence dissolves in earth.

©2017

I really enjoyed that collaboration. Colin is a joy to work with, and I adore his music. Once The Book is out, I’m planning to be a bit more proactive about ensuring that composers of my acquaintance know that lyrics are a thing I am thrilled to write to order. As writing a sonnet every day for a year has taught me, I can write metered rhyme about pretty much anything.

And now, back to the humbling task of formatting.

Smooches to all,

Libby

Singing one’s heart out

Greetings, Folks!

It has been a while since my last update, and while I don’t have much new fiction news (I’m working on a couple of short stories with an eye towards a to-be-announced anthology and hope to have the book o’ sonnets out next year), I do have some nifty things to share from all of the singing I’ve been doing lately, and there has been a quite a bit of that.

I’ve had the pleasure of singing with the chamber choir SACRA/PROFANA since December, which has involved some of the most difficult and rewarding music I’ve sung in my life, particularly our February Black History Month concerts on which we sang Anthony Davis’s “Voyage Through Death to Life Upon These Shores,” a shatteringly brilliant setting of Robert Hayden’s poem “Middle Passage.”

Check out this video of first movement, though please note that the text includes disturbing and graphic language and descriptions of human slavery:

 

And on the other end of the choral music spectrum, we recorded a couple of brand new indie electro-pop tracks, “Play” and “Who Can Say” with composer Stephen Feigenbaum, which have been released under the collective name Doctrine. TIME magazine recommended “Play” in a feature called “5 songs you need to listen to this week,” so that was awesome, as was performing them live at venues in San Diego and Los Angeles.

So that’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to!

I suppose this is my way of sort-of-apologizing for not having as much writing to share lately, but I’m sad to say that being busy with singing isn’t the only thing that’s kept me from making more writing progress, particularly with the book o’ sonnets. I’ve also been dealing with the sudden loss of our scruffy pup Giovanni to cancer a couple of weeks before what would have been his 7th birthday. Regular readers of this space know that many of the sonnets I wrote for the daily project were about Gio, so revisiting those works has been painful, if also lovely remembrances. Thankfully, Gio was survived by his sister Hildegard the Überdachshund, who keeps us walking and laughing, but we miss our lil’ scruff butt every day. Here he is at Ocean Beach Dog Beach last June demonstrating his Thousand Mile Stare.

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Love always, little buddy.

Thankfully, I will be attending a writer’s retreat in July (my first in three years!), and I’m hoping that the week will do a bit of soul-nourishing as well as give me some badly-needed time devoted solely to creative writing pursuits. I look forward to having more writing to share in the very near future.

And until then, I will have singing.

Love to All,

Libby

Two new stories in IMMANENCE, plus bonus sonnet

It’s been a fabulously busy start to 2016, but I am delighted to share that two of my short stories have been published in IMMANENCE, an anthology about gods, godesses, and demons!

Immanence Cover

Now available on Amazon (Kindle, paperback),  Kobo, Nook, and iTunes!

I’m pleased as punch to have two stories included in this wonderful collection of works to amuse, delight, and terrify. My offerings are “Riders of the White Horse,” a historical tale of suspense about demons who prey on the weak and ill and the sisters who try to defeat them, and a delightful romp through bureaucracy and buzzwords, courtesy a conspiracy of trickster gods called “Who Tricks the Tricksters?”

And because I am me, I have composed a sonnet for the occasion. I hope you enjoy both verse and fiction!

IMMANENCE

From simple senses, human minds evolved
To tease out patterns from chaotic static,
Discern the lessons from each problem solved,
Create behaviors idiosyncratic.

Thus, when misfortune strikes a heavy blow
And there is nothing to recriminate,
A god or demon must have caused our woe,
For such cruel chance we cannot contemplate—

For why should children starve while gluttons feast
Or illness strike the strong down at their peak?
Though blessèd may be those who have the least,
They pray for intercession, life less bleak.

But when you send a wish into the air,
You cannot know just who is listening there.