A Brand New Vineyard Novel!

vineyardmagiccoverlargeFinally, finally, finally, I finished another book.

The title is VINEYARD MAGIC: It’s a little bit sassy, a little bit poignant, and it offers a playful peek into what can happen when New York City society collides with the “real people” of Martha’s Vineyard. (This one was fun to write!)

The drama begins when three forty-something women rush to the island to try and help their friend LIBBY who has suddenly lost everything: the co-op, the trust fund, the house in Belize, and maybe even the one on the Vineyard, where she is hiding out.

But what began with good intentions (well, almost good intentions), quickly collides when the women find that Libby is beset with amnesia, her husband is missing, and a dead body has turned up in the phlox.

As if the three women didn’t have enough of their own problems: CANDACE has a haunting family secret that’s about to crack her world; EMMIE has a super-wealthy husband and a secret of her own (can you say “horse trainer?”); and DEVON has absolutely no good reason why she hasn’t signed her divorce papers. And now, worst of all, the women must learn how to navigate the local island gendarme before one of them is arrested.

Suffice it to say, VINEYARD MAGIC is packed with fun. It’s my 18th novel—the 7th to take place on the Vineyard—and stay tuned, because it’s going to be the first of a new series.

Want a copy? Click here: VINEYARD MAGIC. It’s available as a print book as well as an eBook. Enjoy!

For info about my earlier books, go to my website: jeanstone.com. Most are still available in print (published by Random House and HarperCollins); all are now available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com as eBooks. Authors love the Internet!

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It’s a Wrap: MV Film Festival 2016

IMG_4857Okay, so it wasn’t exactly Sundance or Cannes, and the outdoor “café” was comprised of hay bales and picnic tables inside a tent that was “heated” against the chilly, up island breezes, but the three-day Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival was a huge hit due to its people—filmmakers, fans, and the folks from Morning Glory Farm who provided fabulous food—and, mostly, to the terrific selection of over two dozen quality documentaries.

Take Wolfpack, for example. A riveting, disturbing, yet oddly inspirational story of six boys who were kept locked up for 14 years in the family’s Lower East Side Manhattan apartment, the film chronicles the boys’ ability to survive thanks to the creativity of their souls and the magic of movies. It won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary at Sundance Film Festival last year.

By popular demand at MVFF, the film was shown three times. And, as if it wasn’t mesmerizing enough, at the end of each screening, out walked four of the Wolfpack boys who graciously answered audience questions.

I had a chance to speak with two of them between their appearances. We stood near a bale of hay; they were articulate, engaged, startlingly relaxed, and self-confident. They told me they’d been looking forward to coming to the Vineyard. “JAWS was one of our favorite movies,” Mukunda, the eldest, now 28, said. Good thing they stayed in Edgartown, where much of that film was shot.

It you have a chance, rent the DVD. The ways in which these boys grew and blossomed in an environment that would make many of us simply curl up and die is astounding. It is guaranteed—by me—to make you look at your own life differently . . . and with gratitude.

Though I didn’t get to watch (I sold t-shirts, mugs, and more to a bustling, happy crowd), the films covered a wide variety of topics that included the rising heroin epidemic on Cape Cod; the intriguing story of Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt; and the chronicle of a Sri Lankan man who escaped that country’s civil war with a two strangers—woman and an orphan. Titled Dheepan, the film won the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Another unique screening was Presenting Princess Shaw, the story of Samantha Montgomery, who, by day, is a caregiver for the elderly; by night she’s Princess Shaw, a soulful singer who turned into a viral sensation.

Samantha/Princess was at MVFF, too. On the last day of the festival, I spotted her sitting on a picnic table bench, staring across the expanse of lawn between the Chilmark Community Center and Chilmark School.

“How are you doing?” I asked.

She smiled wistfully. “This has been such an amazing experience,” she said. “I’ve been trying to figure out if the Vineyard can possibly be a real place. And if the people are real people.”

I laughed. “Maybe we’re just another movie,” I said.

She nodded.

I walked away, completely understanding how she felt.

Independent Gulls and Darned Good Movies

IMG_4785Does anyone out there recognize this little guy? I’ve been told he rides the ferry named the “Martha’s Vineyard,” perches on the deck outside the snack bar, and waits for folks to share the oyster crackers from their quahog chowder. I saw him the other day when I went over to Cape Cod and, sure enough, he consumed at least a dozen crackers right out of a woman’s hand.

Of course, he reminded me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Remember that book? If I’m allowed to quote amazon.com here, the story, by Richard Bach, is about “people who follow their hearts and make their own rules . . . who know there is more to this living than meets the eye.” Jonathan becomes symbolic of “the joy of finding one’s own way.”

If it’s true that this gull rides the Martha’s Vineyard, he’s headed in the right direction. This, after all, is a place where free-thinking is applauded, and following one’s heart tends to go without saying.

One terrific example of this will be later this week at the 16th Annual Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. Started one winter by a man named Thomas Bena who, together with some friends, was “desperate” for some good movie entertainment, the festival has grown and grown. It now showcases award-winning films from places like Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival, and has a terrific board of directors that includes Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This year’s line-up includes 30 documentaries, thought-provoking feature films, and comedies for adults and kids.

Packed into four days from March 17–20th, the festival often is a sell-out. If you’re lucky enough to land a ticket, I might be the enthusiastic volunteer who takes it at the door of the Performing Arts Center in Oak Bluffs or at the Chilmark Community Center. (Films will also be shown at the Chilmark School and the Pathways Gathering Space.)

So come on over for the festival. If Jonathan is on the boat, be sure to feed him crackers.

The Travel Section

IMG_4745I was reading the Travel Section in The New York Times yesterday, and came across the “36 Hours” column, for which they select a city or town (arbitrarily? Don’t know), then show readers all the fun things they can do there in, yes, 36 hours.

Yesterday the column featured music venues, shops, restaurants, “watering holes,” and more in Austin, Texas. A couple of weeks ago, it was Pasadena, California, which, in addition to museums and cultural sights, Rancho Bar was singled out as one of the area’s “divey pleasures.” (A friend knows Rancho well and shared several anecdotes about the place, but I’ll leave those to someone else’s blog, not mine.)

Anyway, of course, I started thinking, “Hey! Why doesn’t someone do a profile about all the things to do on the Vineyard—especially in winter?”

I read about half the paper (I save the rest for mid-week), struggled with the crossword, did some work, made some dinner. Then, while awaiting the finale of Downton Abbey (yes, I watched it again), I went on Facebook. That’s where I found the link (below) to an article in The Boston Globe. It does not mention the activities (book groups, lectures, films, and more) at the libraries all around the island, or the amazing community suppers served each night at one of the churches, but it does applaud The Newes from America in Edgartown, one of my favorite pubs. (I think it’s safe to say The Newes has a somewhat different style than Rancho Bar.)

Anyway, here’s the link the Globe article . . . I hope that now my friends will believe me when I yammer on and on about all the stuff to do and that, NO, the island isn’t “closed” in the winter months.

And please don’t try and figure out what my picture has to do with the article. I simply didn’t know what image to include, as I’d already recycled the Travel Section of the Times.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/travel/2016/03/05/you-martha-vineyard/75MH0x4yb4Fy8DNrG7QVWM/story.html