Friday, November 8, 2013

Rainbow of Chaos

Today's Friday Friend, Pat McDermott, tells us how she creates a story out of her 'rainbow of chaos'.

Music Hath Charms…

French artist Paul Cézanne once said, “We live in a rainbow of chaos.” German scholar Friedrich Nietzsche agreed: “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” If they’re right, the disaster that passes for my writing space means I’m well on my way to creative bliss.

My desk teems with photos of ancient amulets, Viking weapons, and medieval clothing. Books about sunken ships and Celtic mythology sit beside magazines featuring coin collections and luxury homes. The twenty odd paperbacks I bought last month in Dublin litter my bookshelves alongside statues and knickknacks. Dust covers said shelves and knickknacks, and beside my printer, stacks of bills await a home in the drawer of household files.

This is good. The best artists in my grade school classes always had the messiest paintboxes. When my writing is flying, my “paintbox” is always messy. But how can a coherent story emerge from my rainbow of chaos?

One of my secrets is, I listen to music when I write. Not the distracting sing-along stuff, but quiet, contemplative music, usually Celtic or classical. Music helps me focus on crafting not only words, but entire scenes. I’ll choose faster tempos for certain settings, such as parties or fight scenes, though most of the time, the music remains in the background, soothing and coaxing and painting pictures.

When I started writing my “autumn” romance, I decided the time had come to celebrate the music that has helped me so much. The Rosewood Whistle is a tribute of sorts to Ireland’s traditional tunes, told through the cautiously developing relationship of a man and woman offered a second chance at love. Each chapter title contains a phrase from an old Irish song.

No one needs to know a thing about Irish music (or even be Irish) to enjoy The Rosewood Whistle, and no worries if you can't guess which tunes I used. I added a neat little list the end of the book.

A whole lot neater than my desk.

The Blurb for The Rosewood Whistle:

Surrounded by Ireland’s music and myths, a widowed American writer meets a tour guide leery of love…

On her own at the end of a long and difficult marriage, Gemma Pentrandolfo still hears the critical voice of her husband taunting her from his grave. To foster her independence, she schedules a summer vacation in County Mayo intending to write her first book, and she’s counting on Ireland for inspiration. An idea presents itself when she tours Achill Island with a silver-tongued tour guide whose good looks prompt her to write more than her high-minded novel: she transcribes her years of longing in a steamy fantasy no one is meant to see.
Years have passed since an accident claimed the self-absorbed wife who scorned Ben Connigan and his music. Since then, the former tin whistle ace has avoided marriage, though he never lacked for female companionship before he traded his high-tech career for the slow-paced life of a hometown tour guide. Ben has accepted the end of his run of discreet affairs, until he takes Gemma touring. Her passion for Ireland impresses him. Her love of Irish music soon compels him to dust off his whistles. Knowing she’ll leave at the end of the summer, he sees no harm in keeping her company—until he dares to dream of spending the rest of his life with her.
But he knows it can’t be, not while the ghosts of their partners still haunt them. Not unless the music and myths of Ireland can help them find their way…

Excerpt - In a local pub, Ben has introduced himself to Gemma, whose maiden name is Keenan:

Molly set a glass of straw-colored wine on the table. “Hey, Ben. Can I get you something?”

“No thanks, love. I’m going back to my table directly. The wine goes on my tab.”

Gemma sputtered an objection, but he sent Molly off, putting paid to the matter. “It’s the least I can do after nearly drowning you. So why are you in Westport? If you don’t mind my asking.”

“I’m writing a book. Or trying to. I haven’t decided what it’s about yet. Maybe Grace O’Malley, or someone from an earlier time. Right now I’m doing research. Getting background. Thought I’d go exploring. See the scenery around Clew Bay.”

Well, that explained why she was alone, and she sounded less featherbrained now. More centered and sensible. “The Pirate Queen, eh? You’ll want to see Westport House, and the Grace O’Malley Museum in Louisburg.”

Gemma nodded, as if prompting him to continue. Should he tell her he was a tour guide? He could think of no other excuse to see her again—and he wanted to see her again.

He leaned toward her. “I could take you on a private tour.”

Her head jerked back. She glared at him. “I’ll just bet you can.” Her voice dripped with insinuation.

Ah, you’re a smooth one, Connigan! “No, not… I’m a tour guide. I do guided tours to different sites. Group tours or private tours for individuals. That’s what I meant. I can take you wherever you’d like to go.”

Her mouth tightened into a pale pink line. She backed into her chair in a way that made him feel like a bowl of rotting fruit. “Thanks, but I prefer to travel alone. You’ll have to make your sales pitch to someone else.”

Amputated. Just like that. Ah feck, who needs women anyway?

But he couldn’t blame her. She thought he’d been selling his services to a vulnerable widow traveling alone. Or worse, trying to pick her up. Well, he was, but not like a feckin’ plonker.

Maybe it wasn’t too late. Ever so slowly, he shook his head. “The offer was free of charge, Gemma. I make allowances for friends, and I hope we’ll be friends.”

She crossed her arms, hugging herself as if she were cold. Or frightened. “Speaking of friends, don’t let me keep you from yours. Thanks for the wine, Ben.”

He sighed and stood. “My pleasure. Really.” One last try. He drew his card from his shirt pocket and placed it atop her book. “If you have any questions about what you see, or if you want to know how to get anywhere, please give me a call. No charge, no strings.” He turned to go. “By the way, I recommend the fish and chips. None better in town. It was fine meeting you, Gemma Keenan.”

Boston, Massachusetts native Pat McDermott writes romantic action/adventure stories set in an Ireland that might have been. Glancing Through the Glimmer and its sequel, Autumn Glimmer, are young adult paranormal adventures featuring Ireland’s mischievous fairies. Both books are “prequels” to her popular Band of Roses Trilogy: A Band of Roses, Fiery Roses, and Salty Roses. The Rosewood Whistle is her first contemporary romance.
Pat is a member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, Romance Writers of America, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. Her favorite non-writing activities include cooking, hiking, reading, and traveling, especially to Ireland. She lives and writes in New Hampshire, USA.

Pat’s Web Site:

The Rosewood Whistle is available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K., and other online book sellers.

Thanks so much for being our Friday Friend today, Pat. I am reading The Rosewood Whistle at the moment, and loving it, as it is bringing back so many memories of my visits to Ireland, especially Westport and the coast of County Mayo. The characters are all so wonderfully Irish too - I can hear their voices as I read. Anyone who loves Ireland, and indeed anyone with a longing to visit Ireland, should definitely read this delightful story of Gemma and Ben. 


  1. I'm delighted to be today's Friday Friend, Paula. Thanks for your warm hospitality. I'm enjoying my visit to Heroines with Hearts so much, I might just become and Everyday Friend!

  2. Welcome, Pat! (I am a new CHRW member. Great group.)
    I love the idea of an older heroine. Love can always come 'round again.
    I've never been to Ireland, but reading The Rosewood Whistle will add to my armchair travelogue.

  3. I did recognize your name from the CHRW group, Ana. Glad to connect here as well. I'm an armchair traveler too, but I like to get out of the chair to visit Ireland now and then. Thanks so much for the welcome!

  4. Pat, your office sounds a lot like mine! I also listen to Irish/Celtic music when I'm writing. I find it very inspiring. Best of luck with The Rosewood Whistle,can't wait to read it!

  5. Ah, another writer whose chaotic office produces coherent stories. And yours are also wonderfully entertaining, Cynthia. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. And now you'll always be enshrined in my mind as the girl with the messy paintbox. Great colors in the Rosewood Whistle. Looking forward to your next book.

  7. Hi Pat,

    Thanks for joining us at HwH today! Your desk sounds like mine. It is amazing that I can create anything out of the chaos.

    Music is definitely a calming influence. I use it when I write sometimes too. But I'm with you, it has to be something without lyrics. Something soothing.

  8. John, I'm honored to have an artist such as yourself think of me as the kid with the messy paintbox :-) Thanks for brushing by!

  9. Debra, HwH is a lovely little hideaway. I'm happy to be here. Glad to hear I'm not alone in my need for lyric-less music, at least when I'm trying to write. Now, cooking is another story altogether. Thanks so much for the warm welcome!

  10. Welcome to Heroines with Hearts, Pat. So nice to have you hear. I'm always fascinated by people who can write to music. So far, I haven't been able to do it, although music definitely inspires me to write certain characters. I love the premise of your book. Thanks so much for stopping by today.

  11. Hi, Pat! I'm right there with you using music in the background. I sometimes use music with words. All of the time I have to use music that reflects the story I'm working on.

  12. Jennifer, thanks so much for the warm reception. Certain pieces of music have inspired entire scenes for me, and I have a few scenes on the back burner now, simmering away. Music has been so inspiring to me, I thought The Rosewood Whistle would be a way to say thanks. I hope music continues to inspire you too :-)

  13. Alexa, you're a better man than I am if you can listen to music with words while you're writing! I appreciate the need to use music that reflects what you're writing. I do that too, changing the music to match the scene. Great to see you here. Thanks for dropping by!

  14. The Rosewood Whistle sounds wonderful, Pat. I love the excerpt and can't wait to read the story. Best of luck with it!

  15. Appreciate your good wishes, Lane. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Happy I stopped by, Pat! Love the excerpt and interview. Irish music is a favourite of mine too! It will always be in my blood :)Although, played the classics for many years. How fortunate you can write and listen to background music. I wish I could.

  17. Jennifer, I'm happy you stopped by too. Thanks so much!