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Saturday, May 18, 2019

A novel of the Quabbin Reservoir - on sale!


This is to announce a SALE on the eBook version of my novel BESIDE THE STILL WATERS.  From now for the next two weeks until Friday, May 31st, you can get your copy for 99 cents!  Regular price is $5.99.

Four towns…dismantled as an entire valley is prepared to be flooded. The past is being wiped clean, the present threatens, the future belongs to the fearless.
 
Three generations weave a tapestry of isolation and stubborn independence, battling the forces of nature, the Commonwealth, and each other in this family saga. A courageous girl becomes the guardian of her family’s heritage, and ultimately, the one to determine what happens next.
 
Beside the Still Waters is based on actual events that displaced four entire towns in central Massachusetts in the 1920s and 1930s for the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir.  Families are torn apart, divided between those who protest the construction, those who give up and leave while they can, and those who help to build the dam that will flood the towns.
 
Return to the Swift River Valley, its charm and its pain, its mysteries and its lessons—to a community, a family, and a young woman in a race against time.

You can purchase your copy at these online retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Apple iTunes

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Movie music at the symphony - Springfield, Massachusetts


Watching a symphony orchestra at work is like watching a magic trick explained and yet still retain the mystery. One sees the component parts of the music put together, each musician’s contribution to the whole, and being able to see the machinery of it, if you will, is wonderfully dramatic. Music from classic films, removed from their films in the setting of a symphony performance, is revelatory.

I recently had the pleasure of attending an evening of theme music from the movies—mostly classic films—performed by the Springfield (Massachusetts) Symphony Orchestra, which is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary.  My thanks for the comp ticket to my friend Shera Cohen, whose company, In the Spotlight, reviews the arts in western New England.

Fans of classic films are usually extraordinarily well informed about pretty much every facet of filmmaking in the studio era, and the music—whether a sweeping theme or even incidental background music—is as important to them as a favorite actor or director. Unlike other elements of film, rather than intellectual analysis, the music evokes a purely emotional response.

So it was at Springfield Symphony Hall and “Music Night with Maestro Rhodes.”  Along the same lines as big-screen showings of classic films, this evening brought out not only symphony regulars, but clearly an enthusiastic audience who recognized the film scores.

Maestro Kevin Rhodes conducted and also interspersed between the selections a bit of background information on the composers.  His style of presentation was breezy, lighthearted, and quite funny at times.  When he introduced composer Alex North’s “Prelude” from Cleopatra (1963), he remarked of its suggestion of an exotic ancient world—and Elizabeth Taylor’s presence— “You can just see the blue eyeshadow when you hear this one.”

Other composers included Alfred Newman, who was represented not only by his music from Street Scene of 1931 (which found its way into other films), but the familiar “20th Century-Fox Fanfare,” which was a delightfully whimsical way to begin the show.

Max Steiner’s Warner Bros. fanfare, and theme from Gone with the Wind (1939)—of course—and Casablanca (1942) were favorites.  The latter was especially stirring for its intricate suggestion of Moroccan intrigue and the sudden swell of “La Marseillaise.”

Works from greats Bernard Hermann, Elmer Bernstein (the theme from The Magnificent Seven tends to raise people out of their seats by at least a foot, and his “Suite” from The Ten Commandments of 1956 concluded the program), and Miklos Rozsa—the percussionist’s lengthy solo on the chimes in the “Prelude” from Ben Hur (1959) is something I’ll remember the next time I see the film.  Likewise, the kettle drums from the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and a light sensation of dancing on the tambourine in Maurice Jarre’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962) kept our attention on the percussionists, whose effort we can see more vividly perhaps than the player of a woodwind instrument.  There’s a certain gallant dash about smashing a couple cymbals together.

Films from later decades included the “Love Theme” from The Godfather (1972), Titanic (1997)—which included a stunningly haunting refrain from the women of the Symphony Chorus first from up in the loge and then on stage (I had no idea the Irish penny whistle ever made its way into a symphony orchestra), and other modern hits, but probably the most charming was when the maestro played a piano solo of the “Ragtime Medley” from The Sting (1973) and then joined by a single clarinet, piccolo, trombone, and tuba to playfully embroider the delicate ragtime theme.  They were brought out to the apron of the stage as if to delightfully demonstrate that only these handful of musicians were required despite the complexity of the arrangement. They belonged on a gazebo in a park in summer.

It was an evening of tribute to these composers whose majestic music is so part and parcel of the films that one cannot be thought of without the other.  Watching people make the already fondly familiar music in front of you makes the experience still more intimate.
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Friday, April 5, 2019

Easthampton Book Fest - April 13, 2019! - Easthampton, Massachusetts


Join me at the 5th annual Easthampton Book Fest where I'll be selling my books in the Literary Marketplace with a host of other writers in this town-wide cultural event.  

The date is Saturday, April 13th, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Eastworks  building on 116 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, Massachusetts.  

A variety of other activities and vendors will be located also at the Cottage Street Cultural District and at the Historic District at Main & Union streets.




My twin brother John and I will be there with all our books, including our newest venture - Bob the Bear's A-B-C Coloring Book!  If you like to color and have forgotten the alphabet, this is just the thing for you.  Or give it to a child.  You'll look less ridiculous.


See you in Easthampton, Saturday, April 13th!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Murder at the Summer Theater - coming in December



Coming in December -- the latest in my Double V Mysteries series - MURDER AT THE SUMMER THEATER.

Casey Koester did the marvelous cover, as she has for the rest of the series, and I'm grateful to her for always coming up with stylish, clever, and evocative images.

More to come on launch date details.  Hope on here to my website to join my email list for updates.  For now, here's a little preview:

Rehearsals grow tense at a summer theater on the Connecticut shore.  The lead actress goes missing – or was she murdered?

Juliet Van Allen and Elmer Vartanian, the “Double V” duo, are called in on the case, but even with Juliet pretending to be an actress and newcomer to the cast, the players are guarding their secrets closely.  There are spurned lovers, jealous wives, scene-stealers and heartbreakers, with enough spirit of vengeance to fill up the loge.  Will the show go on?  Even when a body is found?

Murder at the Summer Theater is the fifth book in the Double V Mysteries series set in New England in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

If you like the charm of a classic film, this “cozy noir” will return you to an era of soft ocean breezes and a glamorous game of suspicion played between acts.  The painted backdrop is the heyday of summer theatre, when greats from the New York stage and Hollywood performed in barns and tents on New England’s famed “straw hat circuit.” Passionate accusations light up the balcony, grim consequences lurk in the dressing room.  Join the nervous producers on the veranda for a champagne cocktail.

It’s a seaside caper where murder is in the spotlight in the summer of 1951, and Juliet and Elmer are on the verge of a new professional – and personal – partnership. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Selling my books at a Holiday Bazaar - Chicopee, Massachusetts


I'll be selling my books this coming Thursday evening, November 15th in a special event sponsored by the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce.  The first-ever Holiday Bazaar & Raffle will be held at the Portuguese American Club at 149 Exchange Street, Chicopee, Massachusetts from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A variety of vendors will be there, along with food tasting, a cash bar, and music.  My brother John, who illustrates some children's picture books we've published together, and I will be pleased to meet you.  Stop by our table and say hello!



Friday, September 21, 2018

Selling my books - at the Fall Craft Fair - Chicopee, Massachusetts



I’ll be selling my books at the Knights of Columbus Hall, Granby Road in Chicopee, Massachusetts, on Sunday, October 21, 2018.

I’m very happy to be taking part in the St. Joan of Arc School P.T.O. Fall Craft Fair.

There will be a variety of vendors selling their craft items for the upcoming holiday season, and my twin brother John and I will have a table for our books.  Please come down and say hello, have a look around, and maybe even get a jump on your holiday shopping.  There will also be a raffle, and lunch options and baked goods will be available.  Come out and help the P.T.O. support the students!

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, October 21st.  The K of C Hall is at 460 Granby Road, Chicopee, Mass.

See you there!


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Walking tour and talk on The Puritan statue - Springfield, Massachusetts

photo by J.T. Lynch

I'll be leading a walking tour in Springfield, Massachusetts this coming Saturday, September 8th from the Puritan Statue on State Street to Stearns Square, and then to Court Square to discuss Puritans and Artisans.


Sponsored by the Armoury-Quadrangle Civic Association, the walk will be about a mile in distance, and a few centuries in time. We will discuss the sculptor - - Augustus Saint-Gaudens; the foundry craftsman and sculptor who created Springfield's Civil War statue - - Chicopee's Melzar H. Mosman (about whom I'm currently writing a book); about the landscape architect for the first site of the Puritan statue on Stearns Square - Stanford White; about Chester W. Chapin, the descendant who gifted the stature of his ancestor to the city; and about Deacon Samuel Chapin himself, "The Puritan."


Join us at the Springfield Library and Museums visitor's center at 10:30 a.m. 

Now Available