Book Reveal!

thecurseofthestrawberrymoon_cover_450x684Here it is—the title and cover of my new rock ‘n’ roll mystery. This is book one of the five-part Caviston Sisters Mystery series. Each one takes place in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, specifically Keuka Lake.

Sorry for the delay in posting. I was a bit distracted yesterday by my favorite band Chicago’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Woohoo! (Appropriate, don’t you think?)

On this snowy morning in upstate New York, there is much more work to do on the novel now that I’ve heard back from my editors. Stay tuned for updates on the actual publication date. Can’t wait until my readers return with me to beautiful Keuka where I’ll introduce you to the Caviston sisters and a few other nefarious sorts!

 

Coming soon…

bullyhillviewI’m about to lead my readers down a new path. Coming soon—my first mystery novel. This book will introduce readers to the Caviston sisters who live on Keuka Lake in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes. Over the course of five mystery novels, they will encounter some fascinating characters, engaging them in all sorts of complicated situations. Through luck and intuition, they will help Detective Tyrone Kane solve them all.

BOOK REVEAL: FRIDAY, APRIL 8.

2016 Read an Ebook Week @Smashwords

readebooklogo_2016Every March, Smashwords participates in Read an Ebook Week. The event allows readers worldwide to connect with new, indie writers in every genre available.

Once again I will be participating. Smashwords sells all six of my novels plus my short story collection in digital formats that work with Kindle, Nook, Kobo and formats for other devices, from phones to tablets.

The event runs from 12:00 a.m. March 6 to 11:59 p.m. March 12, 2016.

This year you will be able to download any of my books—including my top bestseller, The House With the Wraparound Porch—at 50% OFF the cover price. Use the promotion code on the book’s page (RAE50) when you go to checkout.

All of my books are available on my Smashwords Author page.

eddiestackMy favorite modern Irish writer, Eddie Stack, has published a new, bestselling book about the cradle of storytelling, dance and fine music in the west of County Clare, Ireland. I asked if he had time for a Q&A for the blog and am delighted to present our interview to you today.

1) Tell us about your new book.

It’s called Doolin: people, place and culture. Doolin is a small remote area of county Clare in the west of Ireland that is renowned for its music, songs, dance and storytelling traditions. The book is a collection of essays and conversations featuring local tradition-bearers. It has chapters on the music of the Russell Brothers and the Killougherys; reminiscences of the last Doolin native Irish speaker, Paddy Pharaic Mhichil Shannon; the gentle art of storytelling with Stiofáin Uí Ealaoire, Seán Ó’Carún and others. Also featured are Botious MacClancy and Francis MacNamara, local gentry who made Doolin famous in the 16th century and the 20th century. Folk art and traditions run through the book and it’s illustrated with photographs, music, songs, maps and journal excerpts.

doolin cover2) Why did you decide to write this book?

I grew up in this part of West Clare just when the vernacular language had changed from Irish to English. The old people like my grandparents were native Irish speakers, English was their second language. My parents were bilingual but English was their first language.

As fate would have it, I was my parent’s first born and when my mother gave birth to twins, I was ‘farmed out’ to my grandparents. I was about three years old and this suited me fine, my grandparents were both musicians and lived beside the sea. By the time I began school, I spoke fluent Irish and bad English.

My grandparents played music every night, both were fiddlers and grandma also played the concertina. On Sunday night other musicians gathered in the house for a session and listeners and dancers came as well. My granduncle Patcheen Flanagan was always present and at the end of the night he told a story or sang a song in Irish. So I grew up in a world of music, dance and storytelling and the Irish language.

After my grandparents and Patcheen passed away, I knew fewer people who spoke Irish and it struck me that I was watching a culture die. So I began to talk to the remaining local Irish speakers and storytellers, musicians and singers. I jotted down notes and initially I suppose I was trying to make sence of what I experienced in my own life. It was the end of the Celtic Twilight and it happened suddenly. Eventually I tried to distill what I knew and what I learned into this book—Doolin: people, place and culture

3) What do you think distinguishes the Clare sound from Sligo’s or Donegal’s?

Clare music is played a bit slower and the tunes are different. Around Doolin tunes were played with very few ‘grace notes’ and little ornamentation, compared to Sligo and Donegal music. Donegal especially has a Scottish influence and tunes tend to be played faster.

Clare music has no evidence of outside influence and music is played at a pace to suit dancers. House dances survived in Clare until the late 1960’s—though they were illegal since 1937. I think the Clare sound still has the influence of the dancers, both in the type of tunes and the lift and pace.

3) Did you uncover any surprises while researching the book?

Several! At the beginning of the 20th centuries, Doolin had more Irish language storytellers than musicians. That was a surprise and shows what a rich storytelling tradition was there. Our area didn’t appear on the radar of the Celtic Twilight people—Yeats, Lady Gregory et al and it was 1928 before the Folklore Commission visited Doolin.

Another surprise was evidence that music had been played in around Doolin at least since the 8th century—the date of a bronze harp peg found in 1937 near an old Brehon Law School.

Often when I was visiting tradition bearers, our conversation could go off on tangents that nearly always uncovered some gem of folklore, a long forgotten tune or a story, or maybe an old photograph. The collecting process or research was a surprise in itself.

4) What were the biggest cultural changes that happened in Doolin in your lifetime?

There were two and they happened in sequence and were not directly related. First was the death of the Irish language, as adolescents only six or seven of us were fluent speakers and we were all boys! At that stage in the mid-60s, what remained of the old speakers didn’t make up an active community; they were dotted here and there but too far apart to visit each other. If we still had a community of active speakers in the 1960s, I think the West Clare Gaeltacht would be alive and vibrant today. The language would have been kept afloat by the music.

The rise of Doolin as a mecca for people interested in Irish traditional music is the other big cultural change I experienced. Music provided the main social and cultural flux when the language died and the stories were no longer told. Jigs and reels had no language frontier to cross and now the music channelled the old lore and knowledge and sacred cultural connections. It was special and I understood that even as a child. Back then the music was played just for the community, just ourselves. We seldom saw tourists or strangers, apart from people who had strayed off the beaten path. With the rise of radio Doolin music got heard all over Ireland. People began coming there for weekends in the 1960s. That time two or three musicians played at night in O’Connor’s bar and the visitors understood that this was real traditional music in a hospitable place. By word of mouth, more came and then the folk music revivalists discovered it. In a few years Doolin became an essential stop on the counter-culture trail and thousands arrived there annually to experience authentic Irish culture, music, fun. I think that Doolin unwittingly invented cultural tourism in Ireland. It’s a mind-boggling change, and one started by a handful of musicians playing in a quiet pub.

5) Is there one tune, one artist who defines the Clare musical tradition.

Many of my friends are Clare musicians so I’ll just pick a tune! I think ‘The Concertina Reel’ is a definitive Clare tune. The concertina is a popular instrument there, and one favoured by women. I heard my grandmother playing this tune when I was very little and it was unknown outside our area until the 1970s. It’s a popular reel for dancers and is played worldwide today.

6) How do you feel the music of Clare has affected your fiction writing?

It is a very big influence. Musical instruments are my first memory and I learned to play Irish music when I was 8 or 9. It was such an important part of the life I grew up in, that I think it seeps into stories that I write. There’s a story in my first book, The West, called ‘Bláth na Spéire’ and Irish music runs through it. ‘When Angels go Home for Christmas’ is set around a batch of musicians out as Mummers on St. Stephen’s Day. It hangs on music.

My characters are sometimes musicians, traditional or contemporary. ‘Angie,’ a story from ‘Out of the Blue’ is built around music that bridges Ireland and San Francisco. ‘Journeymen’ is another music story in Out of the Blue. Recently I noticed there is a bit of singing in my stories. It’s a Clare trait—’you can’t go wrong with a song!’

A few times, the feeling I got from a tune triggered a story. Music evokes memories, and that can provide a setting for a story. My grandmother played a tune called ‘My Love is in America’, a lonesome reel and I always felt there was a story behind her version of it. It’s one I’m going to write someday.

Doolin: people, place & culture is available from www.amazon.com/author/eddiestack

 

 

Holiday surprise

wrapkindle300x480I’ve taken $7 off the list price of the paperback version of The House With the Wraparound Porch, just in time for holiday shopping.

Previously priced at $24.99—now available for just $17.99. SALE ENDS AT MIDNIGHT DEC. 2.

What Amazon readers are saying about my sixth and most popular novel (4.7/5 stars):

  • “This book captured my heart from the very first chapter! Not only does it convey the spirit and beauty of New York’s Keuka Lake, it filled me with genuine caring for its characters.”
  • “This was one of the best novels I’ve read in a very long time! One of those books that I had to read in one sitting and it was well worth staying up most of the night for.”
  • ” The heart of this story is family and the complex relationships within it. By using smooth prose, each character comes alive and the reader becomes engrossed in their quest for their own identity. I found this to be a heartwarming story and well worth reading.”

Checking in, tuning in

wardrumHi there, blog readers. Remember me?

Sorry for the long silence, but I am busy with the current work in progress. When it’s completed, this will be my eighth published book and my seventh novel. As you may remember, this book is the first of what I’ve planned for a five-part mystery series.

As of today, corrections have been marked on the first draft and I’m busy making the changes to print out the second draft. I’ll repeat the process and then hopefully send off a third draft soon to my editors.

Life has been pretty busy with work (you know, that struggle for the legal tender stuff that Jackson Browne sang about). And speaking of music… I’ve just written my first liner notes for a song!

Music has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. It was as strong a pull on me as art was growing up, and in one point of my early career I’d hope to illustrate record albums for a living. Well, we know how that story ended up being written, don’t we.

Anyway, it was an honor to be asked by progressive rock great Magellan to listen to the band’s new release, “War Drum (This Ain’t America)” and write my interpretation of what I was hearing. The process included plugging in headphones (a true necessity for total immersion) and just replaying over and over an early version of the song. As I listened I jotted keywords that came to mind about the imagery Trent Gardner‘s music and lyrics conjured up. Soon patterns of ideas jelled and I began writing the piece. The ideas flowed, then I edited them back like a returning tide. Again, I repeated this process. Before submitting it, I slept on the final version and waited until the next morning to see if the cadence—the music—was still in the writing from the night before. There was a bit of last minute tweaking before the final shipping.

Today I got to hear the completed song for the first time. Wow! Chicago‘s lead guitarist Keith Howland added a smoking riff to what I’d heard before. LOVED it!

You can listen to “War Drum (This Ain’t America)” at Soundcloud HERE. Tomorrow (Sept. 9, 2015) it becomes available worldwide at iTunes and Amazon.

So, back to this editing…

Lake Love

A guest post by
LINDSAY EDMUNDS

ChautauquaLakeIn my life have been three New York lakes: Otisco, Skaneateles, and Chautauqua. I couldn’t have written the stories in New Sun Rising without them. This is the literal truth: without knowing the lakes well,  I would not have known how to create the village central to the action in New Sun Rising, or how to describe it.

The lake in my fictional world is named Star Lake. It is mostly based on Chautauqua. However, the emerald green color in autumn is from Skaneateles. The sense of “home is here” comes from Otisco, the lake of my childhood.

Star Lake is the first thing I describe in the first story:

Star Lake is as it has always been: restless, beautiful, and bewitching. I believe it is the source of our town’s various spiritualities. The veil between this world and other dimensions is very thin here. Very thin. For all we know, our lake is a gateway through which unseen beings pass back and forth. I—who have no coherent religion—become mystical when I see the water. We all do.

From the day it knocked Garvis Stillwater to his knees and got him praying to God for direction, Star Lake has had a way of getting people’s attention.

The beginnings of the lake in glacial upheavals are unknowable. Native Americans had a name for it that could not be coherently translated. “When you see me, you will know me” was one stab at it.

On a clear night, the lake mirrors the night sky, as all lakes do. Therefore, early white settlers named it Star Lake.

Star Lake is more than 1300 feet above sea level. Its altitude protects us from the worst heat of the lowlands, but the winters are hard. Sometimes the lake freezes so quickly that individual waves turn into ice sculptures, just like that. A glorious sight to see. In autumn, the lake turns emerald green, with fall colors reflecting in the water. Spring brings refreshment. Summer brings the luxury of long days. When people devoted to progress—meaning personal wealth—tore up everything, they overlooked our small part of the world.

—From “The Town With Four Names”

Utopia dreaming

Dystopias have always been with us. I doubt that the dystopias imagined in science fiction are worse than anything people have already experienced for real. In the past, you could prick your finger on a rosebush thorn and die of it. You could be burned at the stake for practicing the “wrong” version of Christianity. You could see some or all of your children die from diseases now preventable or curable.

The struggle toward utopia is a hero’s journey.  Little bits of goodness are realized with tremendous effort.  These are not necessarily big things. For example, if you had to spend a good part of your life doing laundry by hand, you might consider the invention of the washing machine as a needful ingredient of a utopian society.

The town by Star Lake has utopian ideals. What would happen, I wondered, if a girl raised in this community decided to try her luck in the outside world.  The result was New Sun Rising: Ten Stories.

New York dreaming

In the 19th century, the state of New York saw some remarkable events. The Chautauqua Institution was founded at Fair Point on Chautauqua Lake in 1874. Not to be outdone, spiritualists founded Lily Dale in 1879 on Cassadaga Lake. In 2015 both communities are still alive and more or less true to the principles on which they were founded. Lily Dale is the largest spiritualist community in the world. Chautauqua continues to answer the human desire to reach higher, know more, feel more, and be more.

There was the Oneida Community, which was dedicated to “perfectionism.” Its survival for 33 years (1848-1881) was an extraordinary achievement. Utopian  experiments tend to fall apart quickly because trying to realize a utopia is the hardest work on earth. The Oneida Community has a lasting legacy: Oneida silverware, though it is not made in the USA anymore.

In 1848, a convention was held at Seneca Falls on the subject of women’s right to vote. This right was made a plank in the Liberty Party Platform. Seventy years later US women got the vote.

Every civilizing step, every bit of scientific progress or ease or comfort we know is achieved with great effort against the contrary pulls of brutality, indifference, and Murphy’s Law. Utopia beckons us forward like a shimmering vision.

There was the Cardiff Giant, too, in 1858, but he was sort of silly.

Mary Pat Hyland’s lake is Y-shaped Keuka, and my three are elsewhere, but you don’t have to explain lake love to anyone from upstate or central New York.

Lindsay_NewSunRising_thumbnailAbout New Sun Rising

The year is 2199; the place, the Reunited States. The stories are about a girl who was raised in a utopian community and then tries to make her way in a dystopian society.

New Sun Rising: Two Stories is the “appetizer” version of  New Sun Rising: Ten Stories.  It is inexpensive in terms of both money (99 cents) and time (43 pages on the Kindle).

Amazon | Amazon UK | iTunes | Nook | Kobo

New Sun Rising: Ten Stories is available for preorder now and for purchase on May 25, 2015.  For the first month, it will be a good buy at half price of $1.99.  It will eventually cost $3.99 and will stay at that price for quite awhile. There will also be a print version.

Biographical note

Lindsay Edmunds

Lindsay Edmunds

Lindsay Edmunds’s highest ambition is that her stories be true “in the way that stories are true,” to quote Nancy Willard, who wrote the wonderful novel Things Invisible to See. She believes that everybody has stories to tell. (If you doubt it, get someone talking about their job.) Everybody sees a lot. Everybody knows a lot.

Although she loves New York, Lindsay Edmunds lives in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Read an E-Book Week

ebookweek2015

Today begins SmashwordsRead an E-Book Week. It’s a great opportunity to download heavily discounted ebooks from the countless authors who publish through this great service.

If you’re not familiar with Smashwords, it’s a place where you can download an ebook in the format of your choice. Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Apple versions as well as other formats are available.

wrapkindle300x480oniondomes_cover_300x456I’m participating and all of my books are on sale, priced no higher than $2.00. Two of my books, my new release In the Shadows of the Onion Domes and my best-selling book of all time, The House With the Wraparound Porch, are priced at $1.50 each.

All you have to do to get the discount is use the coupon on the page for the book at checkout.

Spread the word and get yourself some bargains today!

All quiet on the wintry front

cato1

It’s bleak midwinter. Snowstorm after snowstorm have been dropping white post cards from the heavens. Winds that skied down the Canadian Rockies and across the great plains have plummeted this area into a frozen state. No better time to stay inside and work on the second draft of my new novel. Right? If only it were that easy. Relentless snowfall requires constant shoveling. My writing den is chilly, so layers of clothing are required to sit here for long spells. Outside there is the sound of snowplows dropping their iron walls on the pavement and scraping along as they shove white walls across my driveway’s recently cleared entrance.

I take long walks with the dog when possible to seek inspiration. Most days I note the different birds chattering. Bluejays seem to grouse the most about the cold weather, I’ve decided. Once we were watched by a peregrine falcon atop a telephone pole. It was hungry, just like the cottontail rabbit in the back yard who has been gnoshing on the Indian corn that adorned the front door in the fall.

This second draft entails typing the handwritten first draft as I edit, but I also end up adding more text. So far I have about five thousand more words in the second draft, and I’m barely a third of the way through the manuscript for this new suspense novel. Once this draft is done, I imagine the third draft will reduce in size. The process is not unlike building a clay bowl on a potter’s wheel. Build, take away; build, take away.

And so I plow along in my small creative world, awaiting the coming spring thaw. Soon, I whisper, soon.

What will you read tomorrow?

me_readingTomorrow, Jan. 24, 2015, is National Readathon Day. The effort, spearheaded by Penguin Random House, is targeting the 40% of Americans who are barely literate.

All they ask is that you pick up a book to read, between noon and 4 p.m. your time. Read at home, the library or a bookstore.

When you’re done reading, you are invited to share your experience across social media through photos and posts. Be sure to include the hashtag #timetoread.

Need an idea for a book to read? May I suggest any of THESE?