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Monthly Update

August 1, 2013

Janis & GM decide to be colorful

Janis & GM decide to be colorful

The older I get, the more I realize how few and far between the truly "great" years in a life are. So I am more grateful for this year than I can say. At 62, I find myself with several new "careers" (really, "endeavors", since I have a perfectly good career still!). I would never have dreamed I'd be involved in such a variety of projects, having fun with all of them, and actually winning awards and making a living from a few!

Since the last update, I've recorded two beautiful books - Maggie Schein's Lost Cantos of the Ouroboros Caves, with introduction by her mentor Pat Conroy, and The Singer and the Song, the autobiography of Miriam Therese Winter. Those of you who follow me know that a few years ago I set some of her words to music, and added some of my own, resulting in the song "I Am the One", and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

"MT", as her friends call her, is a fascinating 75-year-old Medical Mission Sister who's written hundreds of songs (27 of which I got to perform!), sold out Carnegie Hall, brought medical care to emaciated children around the globe, and journeyed through everything from breast cancer to the Khmer Rouge. Talk about a full life!!!

At my request, Audible.com acquired the audio rights to "Singer", allowing me to record it just the way I did my own autobiography, sitting in a tiny closet of a room in front of a single mic, guitar in my lap and script in front. Absolutely live.

This project truly reminded me of how creative you can get when you don't have any extras - no extra tracks, players, or instruments. I wanted bells for one piece, so I "tuned" a few wine glasses with varying amounts of water, and played them with a yellow highlighter as I sang! I anticipate the book will be released in time for the holidays, so stay tuned to www.janisian.com for announcements.

Janis with Dieter & Ingrid Schubert

Janis with Dieter & Ingrid Schubert

I also got to premiere The Tiny Mouse at the American Library Association convention before its US release on September 14th. For the first time, I met the illustrators, Dieter and Ingrid Schubert, in person. From my end, it was love at first sight. I adored what they did with my little mouse, making him elegant and rowdy at the same time. I also discovered "Mouse" is the first book the award-winning couple have ever illustrated that wasn't entirely their own, so I'm doubly flattered!

You can pre-order the children's book - which also has the CD and transcription! - from your local store or Internet bookstore. If you order it from my local independent bookstore, Parnassus Books, they'll be carrying signed copies as well. (Disregard the "special order" etc., it will be available the instant it comes out.)

The Tiny Mouse Poster

The Tiny Mouse Poster

And in accordance with my father's believe that "Everyone should sing - because it makes your heart feel good!" I'm offering free downloads of the music at thetinymouse.com. You can get the recording - with and without my vocal - and sheet music so you can play along. The goal of providing the "karaoke" version is to encourage children of all ages to make their own recordings and videos of the song. We're planning to have it translated into as many languages as possible, then recorded by a non-professional in that language, after which it will be posted somewhere on the site.

Hey, feel free to download the wonderful poster Ellen Myrick did for the ALA convention, too! And remember, my music downloads for this are free, but we'd all appreciate your buying the book as well! Support my theory that free leads to better sales, and in that roundabout way, contribute a bit more to the Pearl Foundation!!

Gracie Mae needs that plastic bone

Gracie Mae needs that plastic bone

Gracie Mae, our Portuguese Water Dog, turned a year last month, and began calming down almost overnight. Not that she's calm! She's a constant education for me in what's truly important - changing guitar strings, or playing with Gracie Mae? Writing emails, or playing with Gracie Mae? Taking out the garbage, or rescuing it from Gracie Mae? In the photo of two dogs tugging, she's the one on the left - that girl takes no prisoners!!!

Right now I'm sitting in my tiny room at Warren Wilson College, preparing tomorrow's master class for the Swannanoa Gathering. I feel like I'm at summer camp - nothing in the air but the sound of crickets, and a lone goat bleating in the distance. It's almost peaceful enough for me to forget my current project! I've lent my name to a Kickstarter campaign to fund the audiobook creation of a novel I very much enjoyed, When Women Were Warriors. I first read it as a free download from Amazon and liked it enough to give it five stars; when I met the author this past tour, I mentioned that I wanted to narrate more audiobooks - and here we are.

With Diana Jones having fun at Swannanoa

With Diana Jones having fun at Swannanoa

It's what I call a "journey" book, or to quote the author, Catherine M. Wilson, "What I meant to do was write the hero's journey story the way a woman would live it, because most of the feminist fiction I'd read just did a role-reversal, with a female protagonist doing all the things men usually do." In other words, instead of just putting a female body on a male sensibility, she's created a living, breathing world's worth of characters.

The script is finished, studio, engineer, and director hired, time booked - all we need now is funding to complete the project, master, and manufacture it. And thanks to the generosity of the publisher, Dog Ear Press, at least half of any excess funds will go to the Pearl Foundation. So if you have a spare dollar or two, come be part of this!

Peter S. Beagle quote

Peter S. Beagle quote

My other plans for the next two years are pretty simple - very little touring, and a whole lot of writing. There's a novel I'd like to finish, a collection of Facebook quote-of-the-day I'd like to finish, a book of short stories I'd like to finish, a bunch of songs I'd like to finish, a children's album I'd like to finish...

Wait, why is it so easy to start things, and so hard to finish them?!

Ah, well. I'm sure you all know what I mean!

Or as my friend Peter S. Beagle has said:

Always be yourself,
unless you can be a unicorn.
Then, be a unicorn.

Talk to you closer to the holidays!!!

Janis Ian


Hot News
  • What?! Another auction, you ask? And Janis is still not making any money from it? Well, thank you Covid-19.

    Yet another auction in the hope of continuing to fund the Pearl Foundation when I'm unable to tour.

  • Ebay Auction To Benefit The Pearl Foundation

    Please share!! As many of you know, my wife and I moved recently, downsizing from 4,500 sq ft to 1,000. We have no room left for most of my "stuff"!!! so I'm in the process of donating my archives, so most of my memorabilia is going there - however, my friend Joan Maute helped me select things that seemed appropriate for Pearl Foundation fundraisers. We are beginning with a 7-day auction with multiple items.This auction will end Sunday, May 16th at 4:00PM PT.

  • Pearl Foundation Update

    Astonished and grateful to say that the Pearl Foundation has donated $44,000 in scholarship endowments for the year 2020, bringing our grand total to $1,235,500.00 in scholarship funding, with more than 75 graduates to date. Thank you all for your support!

[more hot news]

Tour Dates

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All tour dates updated on August 6, 2021

[full tour dates list]

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