Tag Archives: day job

Melissa Goscinski – Modern American Singer


melisa goscinskiMelissa’s journey as a talented musician has not been easy nor linear. She is quite young to be in the music industry but her phenomenal voice is opening doors for her career. Melissa is committed to her path and it shows in her lifestyle. Her work has been influenced by Aretha Franklin, Miranda Lambert, Tina Turner, Amy Winehouse, Adele,
Jeff Buckley and so many more… She is an American Idol contestant for than once. Let’s find out about her unique life.

I have the great pleasure to introduce to my audience Melissa Goscinski who is the lead singer of Violet Skies. Her genre is Americana/Soul/Rock but just writing the words describing her work is not enough. At the end of the article I will put the links to some of her music. Melissa has also recorded her first EP.

PSW (Purely Simple Words): Welcome Melissa and thank you for taking the time to talk to me. How old were you when you started singing.

MG (Melissa Goscinski): I was singing since I was about two. But I was really discovered when I was 12 accidentally by my elementary music teacher Ms.Weltz.

PSW: When did you start studying music?

MG: I started studying professionally about 12 – 13 years old. I discovered I could really sing when I was about 11 early 12. I started with teachers when I was 13. I am trained in classical opera. I haven’t been in vocal lessons for a while but I am going to start up again because I was recently diagnosed with vocal nodules.

I am doing therapy with a vocal therapist and various doctors. I do vocal warm ups three times a day to get rid of them ad if that doesn’t work then surgery is the other option. But I haven’t been singing for a while and that is really sad.

PSW: How long have you been on break from singing?

MG: I have been on a bread since June 27. the day after the school term ended I went to the vocal doctor because I was experiencing vocal hoarseness and got tired very quickly, then I would get laryngitis were I couldn’t speak, I knew something was not right. So they they were. The nodules.

PSW: How long has it been since you sang classically?

MG: I haven’t been singing classically in 6 years but I am with a band and we started together since 2010. We do Covers. We do rock music like Aerosmith, Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Adele and some new stuff. When I am not preforming I work with kids. Between my day job and singing it was stressful and I guess it got to me.

PSW: Where is your day job?

MG: I am a para professional for the Board of Education in NYC.

PSW: Do you want to be a teacher?

MG: No, I need to find a job to help my mom out. My friend recommended me at her school and I got the job. That is how that happened.

PSW: How many days a week do you work as a para professional?

MG: I work 5 days per week, I am not permanently hired yet but there is an opportunity to work as a substitute in one school for a whole year. But you don’t bet paid vacations. I work in on High School and one Elementary. This year I worked with kids 4-11 and last year 15-16 year olds.

PSW: Did you finish college?

MG: No not yet. I was a music major and I took a year leave of absence but I want to go back for Media Studies for a back up plan because I want to stay in this business. I know goal of achieving stardom is extremely hard but I came to terms, and I know I love the business so much I would do anything whether to work on the front line or behind the scenes.

PSW: Tell me about your experience singing with Jennifer Hudson. I understand it was a contest.

MG: My mother had knee surgery and was in the hospital. She was watching TV and saw a contest on the Today Show in NYC. She called me and said I had to get on it right away because it was the last day to enter. I had to video record myself singing “And I am telling you” which is the Etta James song but Jennifer Hudson sang it in Dream Girl. I did record the song and it is on Youtube and sent it in and didn’t think anything of it. Two days later I got a phone call from a Manhattan number and it was the Today Show asking for me. They didn’t believe I was the same person because I sing like a black person but speak like a little girl. They asked if I could sing a little over the phone for the. So I did. They said they were really impressed with my singing and invited me to be one of the finalists in the competition. There was myself and three other contestants.. I remember being picked up in a private car really early in the morning and driven to the Today show. It was a wonderful experience. Jennifer Hudson picked the winner a surprisingly she chose me.

PSW: Did you sing with Sherri Shepard.

MG: Yes, one of the guys in the band knows her. He is a producer at the ABC show the View. She was having a house warming party and invited my band to preform. I was a wonderful experience plus I met a lot of nice people in the audience and met May Pang who is now my friend.

She invited me to her birthday party in October, and a Memorial Day BBQ. She is always inviting me to her awesome parties and recently I asked if I could ask her question about the musics industry. She is generous in helping me and is really a fantastic person.

PSW: I listened to your album online and it is beautiful.

MG: Thank you. Rich Guerzon produced the album. He wrote the lyrics and composed three of the songs. On the other two songs I wrote the lyrics that he wrote the music to. We haven’t seen each other lately because I am on break from the vocal nodes however I am still writing the songs that come into my head.

PSW: What Advice would you give to someone who wants to be a singer like you?

MG: That’s a good question. Vocal lessons once a week. A large repertoire so that at any given moment you can sing and audition for someone on the spot. Something that can really show off your talent. This is something I still work on. I have been to American Idol audition a couple of times and got to go a couple of rounds but didn’t make it.

PSW: Do you recommend being persistent?

MG: Once you give up that is the biggest failure. No matter how many times you get a “no” you have to keep trying because eventually someone out there will believe in you. If you have a really big talent they can’t deny that.; even with this nodule thing I am still learning and speaking to people about the music business. I am told my voice is outstanding by some and others will not acknowledge it. You don’t need them they need you . That’s my new motto that I keep repeating to myself. Be positive and it is hard in the field. I am humble and I am willing to learn.

PSW: How did you meet the band you are in?

MG: It is strange the way things happen sometimes. My mom works at the post Office and one of her friends delivers mail. He heard that one of his mail recipients wrote jingles. He spoke to the guy and said he knew of me and suggested he listen to my amazing voice. My mom’s friend gave him all my contact information. The guy did listen to my youtube recording and emailed me immediately. The man’s name is Glenn Sherman and he asked if I could write with him on a few things.

I was busy at the time but he called me and told me of a band who was doing a wedding and said I could benefit if I sang with them to make some money. So I agree. These guys are older than me and have been around for years. I had no idea what I was walking into and thought it was going to a karaoke CD instead it was serous band stuff. After a while it became a regular gig. We played in lots of different place in New York. Band member Rich Guerzon started wiring and I have been singing it. I have been with them four years. It’s an interesting story. I kind of just walked it on it.

I am lucky I walk in to opportunities like this all the time. Like meeting Sherri Shepard and other who know other contacts. And it is becoming a whole circle. Luck so far is on my side in some ways and not on my side in some ways.

PSW: Is there anything else you would like to add?

MG: I am working on getting better, and writing new tunes so stay tuned. And lastly I want to mention my Mon has been completely supportive of me throughout all of this. I can’t go without saying that. Thanks Mom.

Melissa is the essence of persistence. Her message is to keep learning, keep going and thank and acknowledge those who have helped you along the way.

Her band Voilet Skies consists of Melissa and John Ferry on percussion, Rob Cafaro on Keys and Vocals, Mark Magliaro on Guitar and Vocals and Rich Guerzon on Bass and Vocals.

Her future is bright and she is an inspiration to anyone who wants to be persistent.

For more information about Melissa go to:Violet Skies on Facebook.
For Youtube videos type in Violet Skies..
And here is her email: Violetskymusic@hotmail.com

C. Hope Clark – Mystery Writer and Writing Entrepreneur


c. hope clark image 3c. hope clark image 1c. hope clark image 2


I am a big fan of C. Hope Clark and have been following her for more than a year. Her newsletter is full advice for writers and includes 75+ paying opportunities in each issue. She is smart, savvy and prolific writer who’s life style and advice is both practical and timeless. She has graciously allowed me to interview her about her work and generously shares her ‘secrets’ to success.

C. Hope Clark was born and reared in the South, from Mississippi to South Carolina with a few stints in Alabama and Georgia. The granddaughter of a Mississippi cotton farmer, Hope holds a B. S. in Agriculture with honors from Clemson University and 25 years experience with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include awards for her management, all of which enable her to talk the talk of Carolina Slade, the protagonist in most of her novels. Her love of writing, however, carried her up the ranks to the ability to retire young, and she left USDA to pen her stories and freelance.

Let’s Welcome C. Hope Clark.

1. As a successful writer and entrepreneur what have you learned about yourself in the way of your capabilities and creative evolution?

What a strong question! Actually, I’ve learned that I cannot ride on the waves of fads, and that all I accomplish is from my proactivity, not chance. My writing gets better because I fight to learn how to make it better. Every time I pick up my work, I study it for improvement. I read my genre intensely, seeking what makes for success in successful books. My promotion is only as good as I make it. Slow and steady actually can win the race. When I thought I could not keep going is when I made myself stay in front of the screen and work through it. But I am as good as I make myself. Worrying about the odds, or fearing rejection, or wondering if I can make a living at this, will only sap energy that  could be used in moving forward. I love to write. It’s as simple as that. So why should anything get in my way to do so?

2. Do you recommend writing about what you know and what you are interested in to put in a story or non fiction piece?

I believe in learning how to write before you get overly active moving outside your comfort zone with the material. That means in your early days, you write what you know until you’ve honed your voice. That way you’re not going nuts balancing finding the voice AND researching the material. Then as your writing grows, your research and subject stretch grows as well. Writing isn’t one of those endeavors you just decide to jump into and then see if you can swim. It’s a ladder, and you have to climb one rung at a time.

3. Was there ever a time where you wanted to give up and how did you keep going?

There were moments, and there still are moments. I had one just two weeks ago. Keep in mind that nobody really “arrives.” It’s a continual journey with no end. Everyone has bad days along that journey. Novels are draining and time consuming, and when readers don’t give reviews or the feedback is silent, you wonder if you’re scratching the surface and making any difference. Or pre-getting published, you wonder if you are wasting your time trying to be a writer. Happens to everyone. I think I kept going via stubbornness. I’ve always been a person who hated to be bested, hated failure. If I have a bad day, I make myself write through it. That’s what’s great about journaling or even blogging (if you don’t whine). Having shoulder of at least one person helps. They help put your irrational thoughts into  perspective.

4. How were you inspired to create FundsforWriters?

I went into FundsforWriters kicking and screaming, actually. I was writing mystery, hoping to leave the day job one day. But I was also freelancing, writing online, which in the late nineties, was a novel concept. Nobody understood that writing for the web and for print were entirely different. Somebody saw my name on a site, asked me to speak to their writer’s group. I did, and the subject morphed into a talk about writers being broke. In my day job, I managed an agency’s budget and had advised loan and grant clients, so I slid into my day-speak talking about earning money and managing it and how there were grants, contests and freelance markets for writers who were trying to write books. The emails started pouring in as a result, and I created a newsletter to answer all the questions once a week, so I could write my own work. The  readership exploded in a few months, then a year, to where it is now. I interpreted it as a higher power telling me to use what I know to get my foot in the door and my name known as a writer. It worked. FFW is now 15 years old and 40 plus thousand readers, and Writer’s Digest has selected it in its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years.

5. What are the best ways to network and get the word out about ones work?

There is no best way. That’s what’s so great about this profession. It’s pure freelance and creativity, down to and including the promotion. If there was one best way, everyone would be doing it. You define your strengths, your writing goals, and your style, and then you set up the networking and promo. Because it’s not what you do but how intensely you do it. There are a lot of people going through the motions out there, but few show the passion. Passion is a drug, for the writer and the fans. Everyone wants a taste of it to feel more alive. So decide how you want to make a name for yourself and go at it like gangbusters. Stay hungry.

That said, everyone needs a home base online, and the way Facebook changes all the time, sabotaging how many of your fans can see your posts and vice versa, I suggest that home base not be social media. Website or blog. Where can people find out about you, and use that link in everything. And draw it up professionally. If your site and blog look cheap and homespun, guess what . . . that’s how your writing will be perceived.

But your personality and voice are as important as the quality of your writing. Be seen. Promote daily. I believe at least 25% of your writing time should be spent in marketing. Consider speaking. Guest blog. Respond with very intellectual, well-thought out responses on others blogs. Get busy in the forums about your genre (the readers, not the writers). It will feel like nothing is happening, and it might take a year or more, but you do it daily.

And word of mouth is so important. Don’t be afraid to admit you are a writer, and don’t be afraid to ask others to talk about you.

6. I understand Low Country Bribe is loosely based on your real life experiences and meeting and marrying your husband. That is really romantic. Are all your mysteries based on your personal experience?

No. That history was the catalyst for the series, but the rest of my fiction is just that, made up. Sure, I insert memories, experiences, pieces of friends and family in the mix, but that’s how any author writes. But I love it that people cannot tell the fact from the fiction. That means I’ve done my job well.

7. What is your typical day like?

I like my days loose, so they might change. The only thing that doesn’t change is that when I have ten minutes to write, promote or answer email, I am at the computer off and on day and night. I rise late, around 9-10 AM because I write into the night. I answer email (which takes a while) which might include interviews like this or doling advice to someone with a question or problem. I might work on the FFW newsletters. In the afternoon, I go to the gym, garden and/or tend my chickens. Then dinner, often on the back porch overlooking the lake with my husband and dachshunds. But then it’s back to work finishing work on FFW, marketing/social media, then at night I write fiction. Admittedly, I’m a mystery addict, so I have my certain TV shows where hubby and I try to dissect the stories. We compete on who can solve the crime first. But deep into the night, I write hard. How many words depends on whether I have a deadline, but do a lot of guest blogging (usually written in the day) and I’m trying to write two books a year now. Trying is the operative word there, because I haven’t quite met that goal yet.

I do this 7 days a week, but admittedly, my light day is Saturday. The newsletters are out and there’s less email, so I often work less those days.

8. Is there anyone who inspires your writing?

I love reading great writing, and I take notes all the time. I love all sorts of mystery writers, but the best overall writer whose prose I think sings is Pat Conroy. Other writers include Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, and whoever I’ve discovered lately. It’s a moving target. But I write my way, and I never keep someone in mind as an idol. I don’t want an idol. I want to just write better.

9. Are you working on anything new?

I am always working on something new. A serious writer ALWAYS has an active project. I just turned in a completed manuscript for a book coming out in September. I’m writing the first draft of the one behind it. I’ve outlined another to come behind that one. If you want to be a serious writer, you write all the time. Anyone waiting for the muse, or such bunk, is making excuses. Writing is a job, a profession. You don’t choose what days to go to work.

10. What advice would you like to share with new writers?

Get serious. Write daily. Fight to learn something new about writing constantly. Edit until your eyes bleed, then get others to edit your work after that. You are seeking perfection, though nobody ever achieves it. Readers can tell when you’ve invested yourself in your work. Each edited word matters. Writing is either a hobby or a profession, and there’s nothing wrong with either one. Just know that your success is contingent upon your focus, your time invested, and your goals, because it takes all three of those to make your writing better.
Thank you Hope for sharing the essence of your life and work ethics and dream of being a writer. You are certainly my inspiration.

Hope is a special person who has made it her burning desire to act on her dreams. That’s what life is all about. Hope barrels through any obstruction that gets in the way of her dream and is extremely successful at it. Hope has generously shared how she lives that dream. Take her advice seriously and you will be living your dream too.

To learn more about C. Hope Clark and her work visit these websites:
—www.fundsforwriters.com and www.chopeclark.com .
C. Hope Clark author of:
The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, Bell Bridge Books
Editor, FundsforWriters, http://www.fundsforwriters.com
Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers, 2001-2014