About


About C. C. Yager by C. C. Yager

Somewhere in a parallel universe and another time, I’m a musician who plays piano and cello.  In this universe and time, I’m a writer.

The Yager family mythology had me destined to be a classical musician simply because at three years old I fell asleep when Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto came on the radio.  My parents enjoyed music — my mother played the piano, my father the clarinet.  They encouraged my early interest in music by funding piano lessons and French horn lessons and attending all the school concerts — choir, band and orchestra — as well as taking me to concerts at the local colleges.  I’d wanted to study cello, but my mother would not allow any string instruments in the house (she was not known for optimism) and the instrumental teacher had too many cello students that year.  He suggested the French horn.  I won school prizes playing the horn and sat first chair in the horn section of the school orchestra.  At thirteen, cracking teeth from the vibrations of the horn’s mouthpiece forced me to quit and return full time to the piano.  Through junior and senior high school, I studied piano, accompanied a violinist and a church choir, and sang in the school choir.

At the same age I encountered the Warsaw Concerto, Grandma Yager introduced me to storytelling with her stories of living among the Navajo as a young woman and teaching them written and spoken English.  My parents valued reading and read to me until I could read for myself.  My father took me to the city library when I was eight to sign for my first library card.  I read voraciously through first the children’s section and then into the adult sections, my appetite for stories ranging over all fiction and biographies in nonfiction.  I began writing stories, like many writers, in elementary school.  The first stories were one-act plays I wrote for social studies (both were performed by classmates and me) followed by science fiction short stories the teacher read aloud to the class.  Publication quickly followed…well, not so quickly, but it followed in school publications through junior and senior high school.  At high school graduation, I won the English prize for that year.

I entered college intending to major in psychology, minor in music, and go on to graduate school to become a music therapist.  English and creative writing took a back seat for over four years as I focused on this goal.  Then psychology flipped over into the back seat when I nearly flunked statistics.  I majored in music.  My junior year, I studied music and German in Vienna, Austria, soaking up concerts, recitals, opera, art, and the culture, as well as performing a Beethoven piano sonata in the Palais Kinsky ballroom where Ludwig van Beethoven had performed for one of his patrons, Prince Kinsky.  I studied piano privately with a graduate student of Prof. Dieter Weber at the University of Vienna’s Hochschule fuer Musik.  I loved Vienna.  Back in America, I graduated from college with a BA in music.

Music, however, was not my language for creative expression.  I discovered this my senior year in college, but several years passed before I realized that I needed to return to storytelling and writing.  During those years I worked in corporate offices and an advertising agency, learning about business and living.  I took writing classes at the University of Minnesota with Patricia Hampl (fiction) and Steve Larson (screenwriting) and at the Loft Literary Center, as well as fiction workshops with Will Weaver and Madison Smartt Bell, among others, and have continued to learn of and from the boundless world of writing and literature.

As a professional freelance writer, I worked for over four years for the Minnesota Orchestra writing advertising copy for print, TV and radio ads.  I also consulted as an advertising/marketing communications editor for the Walker Art Museum and the Minnesota Composers Forum (now American Composers Forum).  I have published essays in Many Voices and the essay anthology Gifts from Our Grandmothers, ed. by Carol Dovi (Crown, 2000).  As a screenwriter member of Triggerstreet.com, I posted reviews of other members’ screenplays as well as uploaded two completed screenplays of my own for review.  I write a monthly “Word Power” column for Minnesota Mensa’s publication, Mensagenda, and two blogs: Anatomy of Perceval about the Perceval novels and other writing related topics, and Eyes on Life, as Gina Hunter, a nonfiction commentary blog on life and health.  I am always writing — thinking about current projects and ideas, solving narrative problems, even when not at my desk.  I have been a member of the Loft Literary Center for over thirty years.

A friend at the Minnesota Orchestra once asked me if I was a musician.  I told her I used to be a musician.  She countered with, “Once a musician, always a musician.”  Music and storytelling have been powerful artistic and creative forces in my life from the beginning.  They each have their own language and narrative forms that open the imagination and reveal the human heart.  They come together in the Perceval novels.

 

PUBLICATION CREDITS

Fiction:

Perceval’s Secret: A Novel of the Future in March 2014 (available as e-book at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo)

 

Non-Fiction: (under pen name Phoenix Hunter unless noted)

Print, TV and Radio advertising copy for the Minnesota Orchestra, 1984—1988 (no byline)

  • Personal Essay: “Our Body, Our Sister,” in April 1993 Many Voices journal
  • Personal Essay: “Movies and Dissociation,” in October 1995 Many Voices journal
  • Personal Essay: “Cats,” in February 1998 Many Voices journal
  • Personal Essay: “Bunny Rabbit,” in May 2000 anthology, Gifts from Our Grandmothers, edited by Carol Dovi, published by Crown Publishers
  • Personal Essay: “The Road Trip,” in October 2003 Many Voices journal
  • Book Review for Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman, M.D. in December 2004 Many Voices journal
  • Personal Essay: “Dissociation,” in February 2005 Many Voices journal
  • Personal Essay: “It’s OK to Say No,” in April 2010 Many Voices journal
  • Letter to the Editor: Minnesota Monthly, April 2005 (as Cinda Yager)
  • Letter to the Editor: Time Magazine, November 12, 2007 (as Cinda Yager)
  • Letter to the Editor: Time Magazine, October 3, 2011 (as C. C. Yager)
  • Remembering Carol Bly: The Bus had to go Somewhere, March 2008 Minnesota Literature (as Cinda Yager)
  • Essay: “Money Talks” in October 2009 Mensa Bulletin (as Cinda Yager), the American Mensa publication

Since March 2009 ongoing monthly essay column “Word Power” for Mensagenda (as Cinda Yager), the Minnesota Mensa publication, 58 essays to date

  • Article: “Science Fiction SIG” in January 2012 Mensagenda (as Cinda Yager), the Minnesota Mensa publication
  • Article: “Science Fiction SIG” in November 2012 Mensagenda (as Cinda Yager), the Minnesota Mensa publication
  • Community Voices Essay: “Orchestra Governance Should Honor the Founders’ Intent,” in March 7, 2014 MinnPost.com (as Gina Hunter)

Online: 

  • Screenplay reviews at Triggerstreet.com, August 2003 to 2006 (as Cinday)
  • 18 Articles at eHow.com (as “Fascinated” or CindaY), August 2009 to November 2010
  • Blogger at wordpress.com, “Anatomy of Perceval,” September 2007 to present, (https://ccyager.wordpress.com)
  • Blogger at Blogspot.com, “Eyes on Life,” commentary blog, January 2012 to present as Gina Hunter (http://eyesonlife-ginahunter.blogspot.com)
  • Since May 2014, personal essays about music for ClassicalMPR.org (as Cinda Yager) to present (13 to date)

Completed Screenplays:

  • Secret Hearts (7/97) – not produced
  • The Illusionists (11/99) — not produced
  • The Bottom Line (8/02) – not produced; uploaded on Triggerstreet.com for 5 months
  • Over the Rainbow (6/03) – not produced yet; uploaded on Triggerstreet.com for 5 months
  • Shadow Lovers (8/04) – to be rewritten as Perceval’s Secret
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31 responses to “About

  1. In another world somewhere, I’m still avidly playing music on an instrument, rather than a CD player. My son Michael loves music – he asks for it by name “I want Benny Goodman!” or by visual cue: “I want the blue music!” by which he doesn’t mean Blues, but rather Great Big Sea’s Play, which has a blue cover, or Lonesome and Blue’s self-titled album, which has a blue CD. I finally hid the Lonesome and Blue, after hearing it 3 times in one morning. Sure, I like it, or I wouldn’t have bought it, but still ….

    I’ve always loved music. Both of my parents do, too. I took piano lessons in 3rd grade. Mom still owns the full-sized Steinway grand that occupied the house my whole life. I took flute lessons in 6th grade and played in school bands. Learned to play the oboe in high school with a concern band; then the saxophone for the jazz band; I played at WVU; I actually got paid for once for a gig with a Renaissance recorder group! And, finally, at the ripe old age of 35, I finally buckled down and learned to sing.

    In all this time, I’ve never tried to conduct anything. I’ve never wanted to, either. I was woefully ignorant of some basics of the musical organization, even if I could read the printed music.

    In high school, I sat first chair, 2nd flute for 3 years. At WVU, in order to facilitate staying in the marching band, I auditioned for the U’s concert band. I got put where? First chair – 2nd flute again. I actually went to the conductor and asked if it would be possible for me to play first flute. He looked really stunned, and explained he’d already put someone in the first chair. Upon explaining that I didn’t mean her, that I simply wanted to sit anywhere with the first flutes, he laughed. It was the first time anyone had explained to me that one does *not* simply seat the musicians in a strictly linear descending order of quality. I knew many of the people there, and was well and truly stunned that the director thought I was better than some of them.

    This forced me to reassess my past experiences. I guess I didn’t suck. Nonetheless, it was one of – unfortunately many – points where my music ‘education’ failed to address the reality of being a musician, rather than just learning to play an instrument.

    I still own my flute, the one that my mom rented for a year in 6th grade (i.e. 1976).

  2. I love that you went to the conductor and asked for a different chair! It’s fascinating to hear about how professional orchestras deal with seating of musicians — often a musician actually auditions for a specific chair in a section. I’m not sure how much power a conductor has over seating anymore. I suspect the musicians’ union may have more power, except for the principle chairs. I don’t know.

    Being a musician is a totally different reality and experience, just as being any artist is. I’ve heard often that MFA programs don’t prepare writers for the real world experience of being a writer, only focus on the writing. The business side, which I don’t enjoy much, is still a part of the life.

    Then there’s the definition of “writer.” Is a person a writer only if published? I called myself a writer before I was published because I approached writing as a job, a profession. I wrote. Publication does come, usually, as a result, but it takes time and patience.

  3. I’ve no idea why the whole end of my post is in bold face – I only tried to get the word “being” in bold – simply to differentiate being a musician, as opposed to being able to play an instrument. I can do calligraphy, and I’m pretty good at it: I do art, but I’m not an artist.

  4. “I’m a musician” doesn’t produce the same visceral connection as “I’m an industrial hygienist” or “I’m Catholic” or “I’m a mother”. These all have a place in my life, but not in the same way.

    A new idea (I just came up with this): a person is a collection of pieces – not so new, I know. The little pieces are like Legos – you can interlock them, and stack them up into little piles. Normal people have several little piles.

    It is a matter of the structure of a person. The individual pieces are your passions, hobbies, interests, experiences: music, writing, German language, etc. The same little pieces can be used repeatedly (you’ve got lots of 2-dot red pieces).

    Music is great, but it is not the apex of my self. [I’m not sure if there is one.] E.g. motherhood beats out catholicism as self-perception, but my theological views support my choices for how to implement motherhood. Music supports my choices of how to be Catholic. It’s a fundamental part of me, but it isn’t the part everyone sees. The kids are rather hard to hide, but the passersby don’t see religion, hobbies, etc., they see the surface.

    At the same time, maternity, music and religion don’t particularly influence being an industrial hygienist. My job can be seen as another pile that contributes to “me”. Yet, my theological ideas support my personal ethics, which, in turn, have a great impact on how I work, professionally.

    You can see yourself as a writer, because you arranged the little pieces of your self into a new pile that with a sign “writer” on top.

  5. Perceiving people as multi-faceted is exactly the way characters in a novel need to be written. When I began the character work on Evan, for example, I began with easy facets: gender, age, nationality, ethnicity. Each has its own story to tell about this character, his heritage, his family. Then came musician and conductor. This was all almost immediate. The rest has been coming in dribbles, as I discover him, his background, personality, much as I would get to know a real person. In novel one, “Perceval,” I learned that he’s a runner, he speaks German, and he has some interesting psychological and moral issues. And that he didn’t cook, but develops an interest for it. And he loves movies.

    So, when learning and developing characters, it’s important to approach them much in the way that you’ve written above, always open for possibilities.

  6. My 5 year old son loves stringed instruments and also wants to play the cello – and the double bass as well. I love stringed instruments – so I don’t think this will be a problem (when he’s old enough!)

  7. wow… a real writer who started out as a musician. When God rained creativity your ancestors must have pushed everybody out of line and took all the creative talents in his loins 🙂

    • How I wish! My parents were not terribly artistic, although my father painted as a young man (not incredibly talented, believe me) and played the clarinet most of his life around the house. As for my ancestors, what I know of them, they were too busy surviving and working. I tend to think of the artistic aspect of myself as being sparked and nurtured by my paternal grandmother who was proud of her Scottish blood. Those Scots! Thanks for your comment.

  8. i wish my parents were as open to music as your parents. they only allowed me to involve in music only at school club. even want me to stop during senior year to focus more on academic. but, my parents wasn’t a musician. I played flute and piccolo. Nice blog btw. Read your freshly pressed one.

    • You can pick up music at any time in life, but it sounds like you have had some music education as a child. That’s great! You can always return to the flute when your parents are no longer calling the shots in your life. Thanks for leaving the comment and good luck!

  9. Yeah I think I should probably follow you.

  10. Initiator ;-)

    Dear nice to read your all comments on my blog’s posts..!
    Also nice to know you are also accounts related field profession like me..!
    Two accounts may become a good friends like Dr.& Cr. 😉

    • Hi, Tahir — Thanks for your comment! Not sure what you mean by “accounts related field profession.” Are you an accountant? Do you work with the financial records of a company? I’m a writer. I do freelance nonfiction, and I have my own freelance editing business. Of course, even if our professions are not the same, we can still read each other’s blogs and enjoy them!
      Thanks! Cinda

  11. Initiator ;-)

    Hi, Cinda,
    Yup me an accountant and working for an financial record company..! 🙂
    I see in your profile mentioning that account co-ordinate, so i asked.!
    But any how you said right even if our professions are not the same we can still read each other’s blogs…! your real name is Cinda and what is CCyager?
    Would you agree Writers are soft hearted and sensitive in sense of thoughts..?

    • Hi, Tahir — Ah, yes, I was an account coordinator in advertising many years ago. It’s like a project manager. Nothing to do with accounting! LOL CCyager is the name I use for writing fiction. My first and middle initials and my last name. Writers are NOT necessarily softhearted and sensitive. Perceptive, yes, insightful, empathetic, intelligent, with boundless curiosity and fearlessness, (while writing), and a need to share their stories. If you can read English, I suggest you buy the novel I just published, “Perceval’s Secret.” I live in USA. What country do you live in?

      • Initiator ;-)

        Hi, Cinda, nice to read your impressive thoughts and you said right about writers..!Also pleasure to meet a writer but live far away from me…me from PAK…!
        Blogging is gift to contact people all over the world..!
        I can read English..send me PDF file or may send honorary gift to me 😉

      • Sorry, Tahir, but I don’t have a PDF of Perceval’s Secret. But I hope you’ll enjoy reading my blog, and if you get an e-book reader or download the free software from Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook that you’ll purchase a copy and enjoy reading it! All the best! (big smile)

      • Initiator ;-)

        It’s ok dear CCyager..!
        and you are not giving your signed copy of book as gift…??? 😦

      • Sorry, no! It’s an e-book, Tahir. Not expensive. Maybe someday….?

      • Initiator ;-)

        it’s ok…! but thanks for always support

  12. Hello CC! I’ve decided to read and follow 15 interesting and new blogs a day every day for the first month of 2015, and yours is today’s #10! Feel free to come visit me when you can at http://www.thatssojacob.wordpress.com, and follow if you like what you read. Happy new year and happy blogging!

  13. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment, Jacob! I hope you’ll return and be one of my regular followers, especially if you’re interested in classical music or writing.

  14. Great blog! Keep up the good work. You might like mine too. Please have a great day.

    • Thanks for the comment! Wish you success with your blog. Take care!

      • I noticed that your family has an interest in music. Let me recommend that you check out my first few posts of the new year. Also, in December, I posted “Christmas Hallelujah,” which featured a pianist playing before a coffee shop audience. Thanks for your comment. Please have a great day.

  15. Hello CC. Just discovered your blog via The Cherished blogfest organised by Damyanti, which I’m helping with / co-hosting. Looking fir forward to delving further into your blog over the weekend and beyond…

    Regards, Paul…

    • I’m looking forward to the blog hop, although I must work Friday afternoon and evening, and again Saturday afternoon. This is my first one!

  16. You are like, my inspiration right now!!

  17. Pingback: Writing Roots? | Anatomy of Perceval

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