Boyack is a speculative fiction and fantasy writer extraordinaire! I have read most of his work and highly recommend it for great entertainment.
A series that is diverse and eclectic is Lizzie and The Hat.
Lizzie St. Laurent inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate. The hat had belonged to her grandfather. But this is no ordinary hat. Being from another dimension, the Hat has powers! Lizzie and her new partner embark on journeys to hunt and destroy dark entities such as vampires and werewolves. And all while playing music in a band.
Another fabulous series from Boyack takes place on the high seas aboard a ship known as The Lanternfish. I devoured these books and there is a brand new one I haven’t had a chance to crack open yet.
The artist I am introducing to you today is perhaps one of the most unusual and talented young ladies I have had the pleasure of meeting. What Meabh has done is unique and brilliant. And she is giving away a batch of goodies! I’ll let her tell you about it.
About the Project: “make it be me” concept EP
“make it be me” is a concept project based on movies and novels that inspired strong emotions in me. The EP explores the effect that media has on the consumer through the lens of the characters in said media. I would say that my music is indie-pop, or alternative-pop, leaning towards the writing style of artists like Taylor Swift or Phoebe Bridgers. “make it be me” is filled with dramatic orchestration and piercing lyrics that inspect classic and modern stories, written from the perspective of well-known characters or the vantage point of an outsider swept into the deceptive magic of a universe. I immerse myself in different stories and write as if those fictional experiences are reality.
The EP’s opening song, “Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina,” is based on the dramatic screen interpretation of the novel. I was enchanted by the way the author and directors took the mundane and inserted dramatics and pain and love into the story. I wanted to know what it would feel like to be one of those characters, who seem to live for each other, who abandon all reason in the name of love. Of course, it’s all unrealistic. But that doesn’t make it any less romantic or beautiful and she wanted to capture that feeling. The second and sixth tracks, “oh, Hyacinth, parts one and two,” revolve around the heartbreaking Greek myth of Apollo and Hyacinth. These songs are from the perspective of Apollo and follow the story of their short but intense relationship. Track three, “i can still hope” is a playful twist on the play, Romeo and Juliet Same star-crossed lovers deal, except this time, the love is unrequited on the part of who is representing Romeo’s character. The narrator, who represents Juliet, laments and self-deprecates and wishes that her Romeo would love her back. Track four, “glory days” is a folk-pop anti-war anthem based on the point of view of Billy Pilgrim from Slaughterhouse-Five. He is such an interesting character and because I agreed with many of his ideas, this was a fun song for me to write. However, there are parts of this song that are purely Billy. So it goes… Finally, track five, “i still remember” was inspired by the novel, The Kite Runner. It is written from the perspective of Amir, the main character. It explores themes of guilt, haunting, and the desire to run away from your mistakes, even if it includes running away from the beautiful memories too.
Stream/Purchase links for Méabh’s music which has been inspired by literature:
Méabh Stanford is a 16 year old singer-songwriter-musician from Ocean City, New Jersey. She has been in love with music since childhood and has been performing since 2016. Her musical adventure began as an infant when her parents towed her and her older brother to “Music Together” music and movement classes. As she grew, she began taking piano lessons as a young child, then moved to play the flute in the school band. Inspired by Taylor Swift, Méabh began to play the guitar and sing. Méabh’s vocal coach and mentor, Stevi Leigh, challenged her to write a song at their first lesson four years ago when Méabh was just 12 years old. Writing this first song was a groundbreaking moment and she hasn’t stopped writing since. A voracious reader and evocative storyteller, Méabh infects her sophisticated sound with semantic twists and potent metaphors. Her debut concept EP, “make it be me,” was released in July 2021 and was produced by 2x Grammy-nominated producer, Saint Luke.
A t-shirt, cd, and goodie bag which would include a pin, sticker, and bookmark.
To be entered to win, leave a comment and share on social media!
Playing an instrument uses more of your brain than any other art and more than playing a sport according to Ted Talk, “How Playing A Musical Instrument Benefits Your Brain”, by Dr. Anita Collins. It creates fresh neuron connections in your brain. Talking about connections, playing is a very social activity which is also healthy and fun! I joined a music club, but you can also join a community band or orchestra or play duets to make new friends.
If you learned an instrument in grade school, take some lessons again from a teacher if you need help getting started again. The better you are, the more fun you’ll have. The regular practicing can be rough, but “Passion For Practice…” helps you to practice smarter, making it more of a fun challenge than rote practicing.
I have listened to about 20 years of music lessons from fine teachers (between my kids and myself) on violin, piano, flute, and guitar in both classical and jazz genres. The lessons expressed practice concepts in so many different ways that I thought it would be fun to express these lessons in paintings.
On the back cover of the book are testimonials from Ransom Wilson, Yale Flute Professor, and Steven Greenman, International Klezmer Violinist:
“A delightful and valuable resource for musicians of all ages and abilities, Passion for Practice offers instructive strategies for practicing effectively. Chaffee’s book promotes a positive message that resonates with the reader while encouraging patience, self-discipline, creative problem-solving, and self-reliance. Her wonderful illustrations add a vibrant display of color and imagery to reinforce each lesson. A clever use of wordplay presents analogies to solutions for musical and technical issues…augmented with insightful comments, stories, and advice from professional musicians and educators… an entertaining, supportive, and informative approach to learning music.”
— Steven Greenman, Violinist-Educator-Composer, Internationally Renowned Klezmer Violinist
“Ms. Chaffee’s creative book reminds people who grew up learning music that they can successfully pick up their instrument again. Whether playing by yourself or in a group, you have to practice to be proficient enough to enjoy playing. If you practice smarter, you will set yourself up for a fun challenge and have a rewarding experience. This book offers ideas for improving your practice sessions. Amazing practice tips and stories from very accomplished musicians included in the book will remind you of others out there practicing too and give you an understanding of what some of them went through to get to their playing level.”
–Ransom Wilson, Professor of Flute, Yale School of Music
You might also enjoy Have Fun With Your Music by Becky Chaffee, a book to encourage young musicians to make practicing their own.
Becky Chaffee grew up in a musical household and raised two musical children. She has degrees in civil engineering from UC Berkeley and Cornell University. She enjoys playing flute for her music club. Through her music gifts company, MusicTeacherGifts.com, Becky raises funds for music education and has distributed $1,000s to youth. Much of the artwork in her books is presented on note cards, prints, and Tee shirts that sell in music stores and symphony gift shops such as the Brevard Music Center, Nashville, and San Francisco Symphony Gift Shops, SW Strings…
I am super excited to host C.S. Boyack on my blog today as he tells us a little more about his newest Lizzie and The Hat adventure, Lunar Boogie. You may have seen my review last week and if so, you know how much I enjoyed it!
One of the things I enjoy immensely in each of the Lizzie and The Hat books is the music. The songs Boyack chooses bring instant memories for me and it adds to the dimensional layers of the story. But, I’ll let him tell you more about it. Take it away, Mr. Boyack!
Thanks for having me over, Jan. I try to keep each tour post unique, and with your ties to music thought that might be a good topic here.
Lizzie and the Pythons are a cover band put together by Lizzie and the hat. The hat is a creature from another dimension who take the form of a hat. She wears him at all of her performances, because their symbiotic relationship allows him to play the upright bass using her hands and fingers.
Their band plays music people can party and dance to. It could be anything from rock and roll, blues, country, even a bit of glam rock on occasion.
I spend part of each evening surfing for music. When I first started, my memory was good enough for several hundred songs on a playlist I made. After that, I filtered them down into a specific playlist for this series. I wind up listening to that during my commutes and it inspires me.
These days, I discover a lot of obscure music that would work, but leaves me with an executive decision. Writing the books is a bit of a tightrope. Obscure songs are just as much fun, but might not relate to as many readers. Would any of you recognize the opening chords of “You Need Love,” by JD Simo? I doubt it, but you’re missing out. Hard to add that to a book and have it come across.
A title everyone recognizes will help set the mood for a scene at one of their gigs. It’s a party environment, fun, etc. It’s a nice contrast to killing monsters under the full moon. I have to be careful, though. Music is protected by Copyright. I can freely use titles, but not lyrics without purchasing a license. (Did that once, and it’s not worth it.) It gets a bit tricky, but I’ve been able to weave the titles into dialog and that seems to work.
The other trick came from selling the band. I did this in an earlier book, but won’t do it for every one as that would get boring. They have a five piece; bass, drums, guitar, piano, and saxophone. The saxophone player has a baritone and a tenor, and also plays harmonica.
You can see how some kick-ass music just won’t fit this band. Electric Light Orchestra or Styx were great, but the available instruments might not work. I did this by explaining that solos can be handled by other instruments, organs can be somewhat covered by a harmonica, background violins can be covered by soft saxophone, but it will sound a little different. A banjo might be covered by a guitar, etc. Otherwise, I’d have to give them a twenty-five piece band and most gigs wouldn’t pay enough to feed everyone. Many of them would be waiting around for the one song they’re needed on.
A smaller group allows for more intimacy as well. With an ongoing series, I need that. They feel more like a family, and I avoid character soup.
There is a lot more to these stories than playing with the band. The symbiotic relationship between Lizzie and the hat allows them to fight monsters. He has several special skills, but no appendages to do much with. She has free will along with the needed limbs. Together, they can accomplish great things. I’ll let the cover and blurb tell you about this specific book.
Here’s an example of what some of their music might sound like. Get ready to ROCK!
Lizzie and the hat are back in action, only this time they’re up against the most tragic monster of all, a werewolf.
This adventure is more like hunting an animal, and the werewolf is unlikely to come to any of their musical performances. This puts Lizzie out in the dark corners and wooded areas of the city. It may be more beneficial to get the monster to hunt Lizzie than to stalk him on his own turf. All she has to do is be quicker on the trigger than the wolf is on his feet.
At the same time, the police think they’re after a serial killer. Lizzie tries to keep them alive while also keeping them out of her way. As the body count rises, so do the pressures. It doesn’t help that people are blaming Lizzie and the hat for the killings. This involves an urban myth about them that the locals call Hellpox.
Pull on your boogie shoes and join the hunt. Designed as an afternoon read, this one is tons of supernatural fun.
I am super excited to turn my blog over to C.S. Boyack’s personal assistant and robot girl, Lisa Burton, today and let her tell you about his brand new release – another Lizzie and The Hat adventure!
Oh my gosh, Jan. It’s so nice to be here. This is a place I always wanted to visit, and promo for this book is perfect. This is the third book in The Hat Series, and this time it involves the country music scene.
Lizzie and the hat are on the trail of two vampires. They’ve kidnapped this poor woman and are feeding off her like some kind of milk cow. Before joining the ranks of the undead, they were team ropers. Turns out old habits die hard.
The rodeo circuit, and country folks in general, aren’t immune to a good party. This provides a fertile hunting ground for these particular vampires. At a party, some country girl is always going to get a little too drunk, and wind up becoming one of their victims. If hunting is slow, they always have the woman at home.
Since Lizzie and the hat have a small cover band, it gives them access to various events where they do a little hunting themselves. This is no simple feat, because the rodeo circuit moves around. Vamps have to hole-up during the day, so they can’t realistically move too far.
The hat had to do a little research, and increase the playlist for Lizzie and The Pythons. Being a younger person, Lizzie wasn’t overly fond of country music and this leads to a bit of tension between them.
Fortunately, I set her up with some expanded wardrobe that allowed her to fit in as a country performer. This all happened somewhat casually in Viral Blues, which I played a part in.
I should tell you that Craig worked pretty hard to make sure people don’t have to read this series in order. There are little things that cross over, like the wardrobe stuff, but you really can go out of order without confusion.
I know you’re involved in the music business, so this should be a good topic for you. For each of his books, Craig sends me to spend time with Sean Harrington to create some promotional artwork. I know the stories and try to recreate scenes from the book. This one is a concert image from one of the musical appearances.
Your fans are welcome to use it as iPad screens, phone backgrounds, or whatever they like.
Now I’d better get to the links and such before Craig gets upset.
Blurb: Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.
The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exists? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up blood sucking?
Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene.