Sunday, November 30, 2014

What's happening with Seasons.

This is a good news/bad news kind of post.

The bad news is that Amazon did not choose Seasons of the Fool for its Kindle Press program. So no $1,500 advance for me. Sad day, right?

But the good news is that it means I can now do anything I want with the book. So: Hey presto! It's available for pre-order at If you're in the UK, it's also available for pre-order at Amazon UK. And if you're anywhere else in the world, just plug "Seasons of the Fool" into the search bar in your respective Amazon store and you should come up with the book. The new cover looks like this:

The book will be released Tuesday, December 9th. But if you'd like a copy sooner, I'm prepared to make you a deal. If you're willing to post a review of Seasons as soon as you've read it, send me an e-mail at and I'll send you a copy of the e-book right now.

The "Look Inside" feature won't be available at Amazon 'til the 9th. But if you'd like to take a look sooner, I've posted an extended sample at Wattpad that includes both the text from the Kindle Scout excerpt and the part I read at the World Fantasy Convention last month.

The other takeaway for me from the Kindle Scout experience is that I need to develop a street team. I'm going to start a closed group at Facebook for that sometime in the next few days. If you're interested, contact me -- drop me a comment here, or message me on Facebook, or send me an e-mail at the address above -- and I'll make sure you're added to the team.

One other thing: We have a winner in the giveaway! Congrats to Becky Walters, who wins the Kindle Fire HD6. Becky, I'll get that off to you within the next day or so. And thanks to everybody who entered.

These moments of Seasonal blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Seasons: Going to the beach in Michiana.

Julia had finished her blissful dip in the lake and had stretched out on her towel to dry off. The water was cool, even in August, and the hot sun felt good on her body. In a few moments, the breeze had begun to lull her to sleep.
As she dozed, she became aware that the noise level nearby had shot up. But it was only when a young voice cried out, “Julia!” that she realized she knew the people responsible for all the racket.
-- from Seasons of the Fool

Summer is, hands down, the best season in Michiana.

Our house has never had air conditioning. It gets humid, sure, but usually it's stifling only for a couple of weeks in July and August. Other than that, the temperatures stay pretty reasonable, thanks primarily to the tree canopy that keeps the direct sun off the roof.

Even so, the house would get warm inside in the summer. My mother had kind of a crazy system for regulating the indoor temperature. She always woke up early anyway, and when she got up -- when the house was still filled with cool night air -- she would close the windows almost all the way. Then she'd run fans to keep the air circulating. Between all that and the tree canopy, the temperature inside the house stayed almost tolerable until mid-afternoon or so -- at which point the outside temperature would begin to drop, so Mom would open the windows again.

Her system never worked for me. As a night person, I always get up too late. By the time I've rolled out of bed, it's already starting to warm up outside. My own system involves turning on the fans full blast and hoping for the best. And if it's really awful, I'll go to the lake for a swim.

I took the photo up top last summer at Stop 39, the beach that's closest to our house. About those stops: My parents told me there used to be a bus that ran along Lake Shore Drive from Michigan City, Indiana, to New Buffalo, Michigan. But at some point, a storm washed out a chunk of the road. So now Lake Shore Drive only goes to Stop 41 and there's no bus service at all to my old neighborhood.

Anyway, I never knew how spoiled I was, growing up with a beach so close by, until I went swimming in the Atlantic for the first time. To me, as a kid, a crowded beach was one where seven or eight families had their groups of towels laid out; it was never so bad that you were jockeying for enough real estate to put down a single towel, the way it can be at the ocean. Of course, the beaches in our neighborhood have no parking nearby, so it's just the locals. That cuts down on the crowding quite a bit.

I played a little fast and loose with the facts in Seasons of the Fool when I gave Dave a summer job as a lifeguard. It's been decades since any of the villages in Michiana have hired any. Which is kind of surprising, and dangerous, because riptides do happen in Lake Michigan. We learned as kids not to go in the water when a rip current is present -- but not everybody knows that, or knows that if you get caught in one, you should swim along with the current and eventually it will take you to shore. (That's your public service announcement for today. You're welcome.)

All good things must come to an end -- including summer, and this series of blog posts, and the Kindle Scout nomination period for Seasons of the Fool. We've got just another couple of days for folks to vote for the book. If you want a free copy, now's your chance to get in line for one -- and if you know someone else who would enjoy it, please let them know to click here and vote!

I'll keep everybody posted on the outcome via Facebook and Twitter. (Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed....)

The Rafflecopter will wrap up at the same time as the Kindle Scout nominations do -- so now's the time to enter. Up for grabs is a Kindle Fire HD6 in your choice of color. Rafflecopter doesn't play well with Internet Exploder, so if you're having trouble with the form, try it in another browser (either Firefox or Chrome or something). Good luck! And please tell your friends!
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These moments of swimmingly warm blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Seasons: Spring in Michiana.

With a sigh, Julia picked up her spade again and went back to turning over the soil in the flower bed. The conversation with Ms. Thea had brought reality back to her with a vengeance. Maybe physical labor would keep her from wondering yet again why she hadn’t heard from Dave since that text he’d sent, promising her that he would call.
She doubted it would work, but she couldn't think of an alternative.
-- from Seasons of the Fool

I feel like I've been talking about snow and cold weather a lot in this series of posts. Apologies in advance, because I'm going to do it today, too. It's just that it stays cold a lot longer in Michiana than it does in DC, where I live now. In fact, I used to have a sweatshirt that said, "Indiana -- Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Winter, Winter," with a cartoon of three guys up to their noses in snow.

Cute, but SO not happening.
I remember paging through the Sears circular in the Sunday paper and pining for the short-sleeved dresses and pastel spring coats featured there for Easter wear. My mother would laugh at me, because she knew there was no possible way it would be warm enough for me to wear any of them.

But spring does come eventually, even to northern Indiana, and even if it's not nearly as colorful as it is in other parts of the country.

What I'd have seen, if I'd been really tall.
I was stunned during my freshman year of college when the trees on campus -- cherry, dogwood, ornamental pear -- exploded in blossoms. At home, our tulip trees would bloom, but they were so tall that we couldn't see the flowers. And one of my friends had a dogwood tree in her yard, which bloomed, of course. But one isolated tree just doesn't have the same impact as an entire campus full of pink and white.

That first spring in Bloomington, I dashed outside with my camera at my very first opportunity. While I was snapping photos like mad, I ran into a high school friend who was doing the same thing. We shared our wonder and amazement. But a further surprise awaited me: the trees kept blooming. For weeks. This was unprecedented. Back home, the end of winter was characterized mostly by dirty snow and mud, with an occasional daffodil. I began to get an inkling of why people looked forward to spring.

I've now lived on the East Coast longer than I did in Michiana. But every spring, when the trees here bloom and the landscape explodes in color, I'm still a little bit surprised.

The trailer is up for Seasons of the Fool. I think it turned out really well, if I do say so myself. You can go here to watch it, or click below. I've also posted it on my "Book Trailers" page.

And please don't forget to post your nomination for the book at Kindle Scout. Nominations close Wednesday, Nov. 26 -- which coincidentally is the last day you can enter the contest for the Kindle Fire HD6. The entry form is below. If you have trouble with it, try using a different browser than Internet Exploder.

Good luck! And tell your friends! I'd love it if we could make this book Hot and Trending all the way through the 26th!
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These moments of flowery blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Seasons: Winter in Michiana.

Julia glanced out the window. It was snowing so hard now that she couldn’t see the trees at the back of her property. She went to another window, trying and failing to see the Stareks’ house across the street. She thought maybe she could see a glimmer from Ms. Thea and Ms. Elsie’s through the murk, and wondered how the ladies were getting on. Then she thought of Dave – although really, she hadn’t stopped thinking about him since running into him at the store.
She picked up her phone and texted him: You OK?
-- from Seasons of the Fool

I've lived here in DC so long that sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live again in a place where it snows.

Oh, DC gets snow. Sometimes we get a pretty good-sized snowfall. Some years, we even get a lot of snow. But those winters are a far cry from the winters of my childhood.

Michigan City lighthouse (Russell Sekeet |
The school bus would pick up the kids in my neighborhood and then take Lake Shore Drive west, through Duneland Beach and Long Beach. Through the bus window, we got to see Lake Michigan in all of its moods: calm, with few waves; stormy, with high surf; and frozen.

And we almost always went to school, regardless of the weather. Here in the mid-Atlantic, if there's a couple of inches of snow in the forecast, the powers-that-be will give the kids a day off -- even if the snow hasn't started falling yet. It's faintly ludicrous. I mean, I get that part of the problem is logistical. a lot of kids have both parents working these days, and if school is going to be canceled, the parents need to know in time to arrange for somebody to stay home with them. But the other issue is that DC doesn't know how to handle an honest-to-goodness snowfall. Instead of sending the plows out as the storm is underway -- which is what happens north of here -- the highway departments around DC will wait 'til the storm is over, and only then begin digging us out.

To be fair, where I grew up, we got a lot more practice -- particularly on our side of the lake, where we would often be treated to the winter phenomenon known as lake-effect snow. Here's how it works: when the wind blows out of the northwest, it picks up moisture as it blows across the lake. The moisture-laden air cools as it moves over the land, the water in the air condenses, and it snows. A lot.

Here's a satellite picture of Lake Michigan so you can see how that works in practice. The area circled in blue is Chicago, more or less. See how you can see the ground on that side of the lake? Yeah. Now look where the red circle is. See how it's all white there? That's Michiana.

I wrote a lake-effect snowstorm into Seasons of the Fool, just to make the book as authentic as possible. However, I did not include the other fixture of winter life in Indiana: high school basketball.

For the uninitiated, basketball is almost as big a deal in Indiana as high school football is in Texas. For many, many years, Michigan City had just one high school -- Elston Senior High -- and the whole town would get behind the team every winter and cheer them on to victory. We even won the state championship in 1966. I was in third grade that year, and I still remember the signs at my elementary school in support of our Elston Red Devils.

By the time I got to high school, we had a second school in town: Rogers, whose mascot was the Raiders. (I wanted them to be the Rogers Ramjets, but nobody ever listens to me.) Unfortunately, splitting the student population also split our roundball talent. Elston still routinely won sectionals -- our longest streak was 24 years in a row, from 1952 to 1975 -- but we'd often get knocked out at regionals by one of the South Bend teams. However, in 1975 -- my senior year of high school -- Elston made it all the way to semi-state before losing to Lebanon. We were devastated, of course.

But I got over it the following year, when I was a freshman at Indiana University. The Hoosiers brought home the NCAA championship in 1976.

Like I said, basketball is a big deal in Indiana.

Back to the present day. I had a great time this weekend at the World Fantasy Convention here in DC. I met lots of cool people, did a reading for the new book, and came home with a bulging satchel of brand-new books. Rest assured that a number of them will be Rursdays eventually.

Next Saturday, I'll be gallivanting again -- this time to New York City for the Self-Publishing Book Expo.

As you know, Seasons of the Fool is up for nomination at Kindle Scout through Wednesday, Nov. 26th. And as a thank-you to you guys for putting up with me this month, I'm running a contest to give away a Kindle HD6. If you win, I'll even let you pick the color. The entry form is below; if it doesn't work for you, try using a different browser than Internet Explorer.

Good luck! And tell your friends!
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These moments of wintry blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Seasons: Halloween in Michiana.

“Maybe this isn’t a good idea,” Ms. Thea murmured behind her. “It’s so close to Samhain. The veil is already thinning.”
“Maybe it’s the best idea,” Ms. Elsie replied quietly.
The conviction in her voice gave Julia the courage to step into the labyrinth.
At the moment her toes touched the path inside the ropes, everything changed.
- from Seasons of the Fool

As (I hope!) you know by now, Seasons of the Fool is up for nomination at Kindle Scout. The nomination period for my book closes Wednesday, Nov. 26th, which gives us four Sundays between now and then. Four Sunday blog posts...four seasons...I'm sensing a theme here....

Darron Birgenhaier |
We've established that I'm old, right? When I was growing up in Michiana, trick-or-treating was an actual thing. We would get dressed up in our costumes and traipse around to the neighbors and hold out our little buckets or bags, and they would give us candy. It wasn't until I was a little older that people started getting spooked by stories of razor blades in apples and the like. And then came the stories about crazy, trippy people handing out drugs instead of candy, and, well, that's when most parents instituted the practice of checking over one's haul and tossing out anything that wasn't wrapped.

Urban myths die hard. Just last week, I opened a bag of miniature Milky Way bars and found one that had missed the wrapper machine at the factory. I debated whether to throw it out. But it was in a factory-sealed bag and it didn't look like anyone had injected anything into it, so I ate it. So far, I'm still here.

The thing I remember most about trick-or-treating in Michiana was it was cold. Late October near Lake Michigan is not for the faint of heart. Tweet: Late October near Lake Michigan is not for the faint of heart. My mother used to buy my Halloween costume a size bigger than normal, because it was pretty much guaranteed that I'd have to wear my winter coat under it. And yes, sometimes we would already have snow by Halloween; I remember stepping over snowbanks to get to people's doors.

I have a confession to make, and it's in relation to this: A few days ago, advice columnist Prudence posted a letter from a woman who complained that poor kids were getting all her good candy. "Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children," the sniffy woman said. "We already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services."

Prudie, bless her, shut her down. "Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate," she said. I wanted to stand up and cheer, because I was one of those 99-percent kids who would go trick-or-treating in better neighborhoods to get better candy. I mean, come on -- it's common sense. Who wouldn't rather get a bunch of candy bars than a bagful of Smarties? Tweet: I was one of those kids who went to better neighborhoods to get better candy. Who wouldn't rather get candy bars than Smarties?

Ms. Cranky One-Percenter, I have the perfect solution for you. Next year, band together with your neighbors and get everybody to agree to hand out nothing but Necco wafers and Laffy Taffy. I guarantee that the following Halloween, your neighborhood will be a ghost town for real.

Partly to take my mind off the Kindle Scout thing, I'll be out and about this month. Next weekend, I'm attending the World Fantasy Convention. I'm doing a reading (from Seasons, natch) on Saturday the 8th at 3:30pm. If you're planning to attend WFC this year, I hope you'll stop by.

The following Saturday, which would be Nov. 15th, I'll be in New York to attend the Self-Publishing Book Expo. I'm not speaking or reading, but I'm looking forward to sitting in on some panels and learning some new stuff.

And as a thank-you to you guys for putting up with me this month, I'm running a contest to give away a Kindle HD6. If you win, I'll even let you pick the color. The entry form is below; if it doesn't work for you, try using a different browser than Internet Explorer.

Thank you, and good luck!

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These moments of bloggy nostalgia have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.