Sunday, May 12, 2019

Meet Lotus: The Prodigal Farmer's Wife in CLOVER BLUE

"Life gets mighty precious when there's less time of it to waste." --Bonnie Raitt

I remember when my mom turned fifty and all hell broke loose in our house. She shuffled off the yoke of her existence as a devoted pastor's wife and went back to college to expand her horizons. Mom would stay up late, poring over books and homework. She eventually graduated with honors, using her degree to become a financial aide counselor at the same college she'd attended.


My mom with my dad and me in 1961
Although he lovingly supported my mother's educational aspirations, I think on some level my dad mourned the loss of his dutiful wife, and realized that her going back to school was likely the first step of his beloved's path to asserting her autonomy. And he was right. My mom was barely twenty when they'd married. Forty years and seven children later, they separated. My dad was heartbroken. My mom, on the other hand, bloomed like a rose, until the piercing thorn of cancer took her permanently from all of us at the age of sixty-four. 

Saffron Freedom Community, the 1970s commune in CLOVER BLUE, is full of youthful people who aspire to create a Utopian society free from the constraints of social norms. Except for a couple of trusted neighbors, outsiders are forbidden from entering SFC. One of those exceptions is Lois Fuller, the farm wife who buys eggs from the commune that borders their property. Mrs. Fuller is a former school teacher who once had aspirations of studying art. She loves spending time with the Saffrron children, encouraging them to explore their interests in art and literature. The more time she spends at SFC the more envious she becomes of their lifestyle, eventually going so far as to want to join them:

“Look, I know I’m a lot older than all of you, but I’ve been every age you are.” She turns toward Goji, who listens thoughtfully. “Every time I set foot in this community it feels like coming home to that idealistic version of myself, the dreams I lost somewhere along the way.”
Goji leans forward, resting his elbows on the table and his chin on his hands. “You are like a flower, opening. So very beautiful. I think we should call you Lotus instead of Lois.”


Lotus reminds me a little of my own mother and a lot of myself. Today, on Mother's Day, I want to honor all those mothers who made huge sacrifices to care for the children and those who chose to pursue their dreams, simultaneously or eventually. I also want to honor the women who either couldn't or chose not to have kids. Mothering isn't about giving birth so much as it's about nurturing. We are all mothers in one way or another. Some of us plant gardens. Some of us protect and care for the planet and her creatures. Some of us make art. And some of us write books.

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Only two weeks until the release of CLOVER BLUE. If your mother grew up in the 1960s/1970s she might enjoy this book. And you might learn a little something about her...
 Available for pre-order now. 


Sunday, May 5, 2019

A Good Doobie: The Lovable Man Behind The Cloud of Smoke

"Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love." --Rumi

I once briefly dated a man who I later learned carried an expensive engagement ring everywhere with him, wanting to be good and ready if the right woman came along. He scared several women away with his impulsive wedding proposals, myself included. He was a sweet guy, but his gaping need to find a partner felt like a bottomless wound, one so deep that no woman could possibly fill it without losing herself.

One of my favorite characters in Clover Blue is a softhearted pothead called Doobie. (Okay they're all my favorite characters; I'm their mom so I love them equally, nudge-nudge, wink-wink). We don't know much about how Doobie ended up at Saffron Freedom Community but it's implied that he drifted northward from Haight Street in San Francisco sometime around the Summer of Love. What we do know is that he is a lover in the true sense of the word. He's openly affectionate and loves everyone, and yet, like that man I once dated, he's the one member of SFC who finds romantic love the most elusive. 

From the outside, Doobie is the most "typical" hippie in the family, sporting long hair, dirty clothes, and a ready joint tucked behind one ear. He's always first with a smile, a hug, or an offer to share a smoke when one of his brothers or sisters are feeling down. Doobie loves weed; smoking it and growing it. He cultivates marijuana in the community garden, concealing the plants between rows of sweet corn. But you can't help but feel a little sorry for the man who wants so badly to find a partner to receive all the love he has to give.

It's not that Doobie has never enjoyed the company of women. He and former member Gaia
used to be lovers before she abandoned the commune (and her daughter) to follow The Grateful Dead. Later, Doobie sets his eyes on a runaway called Rain who joins the community in the fall of 1974. It doesn't take long for Doobie to realize the new girl is already under leader Goji's spell, and his chances with Rain are zero to nil. As Clover Blue's story progresses, we learn that Doobie has developed a mad crush on Stardust, a tarot card reader who lives in town and occasionally buys a dime bag from Doobie. Stardust is in a relationship with the controlling owner of the head shop where her readings take place, but Doobie hopes to woo her away from him.

Deeper into the story, Doobie falls in love again, this time with an older woman who flees her rural farming life to live at Saffron Freedom Community. But, you'll have to read the book to see how that turns out. ;)

We've all know people like Doobie. They're sensitive guys who wear their hearts on their sleeves. Women are initially drawn to the silliness and charm, but eventually go looking for a more "challenging" relationship, one that doesn't feel so lopsided. When this happens to our Romeo Doobie, he slinks away, heartbroken. And yet ever the optimist, he continues his search for the one woman who will open her heart to receive the gift of love he so desperately longs to share. 

What about you? Have you ever known someone like Doobie? I hope you'll share your story in the comments. And if you haven't already, I hope you'll consider pre-ordering CLOVER BLUE, now just 23 days from our launch date of May 28!

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Meet Coyote: The Loner, The Lover, The Leaver

The wolf pack will die when scattered by man, lonesome coyote survives. --El Coyote, Kris Kristofferson

Of all the characters within the pages of my forthcoming novel CLOVER BLUE, Coyote was the most unknown to me. Usually when I start a book, I acquaint myself with each person, learn their history, let them tell me their story so I can tell it to you. In Coyote's case, his story was more of a quiet reveal as I got to know him through his actions. This is partly because he's a man of few words, and usually only speaks when he has something worth saying. 

Because of this, the best way to introduce Coyote is to share some excerpts that might offer a few clues about this father, protector, army deserter, and loyal friend. In the following scene, young Clover Blue shares his thoughts in the midst of a powerful storm lashing outside their tree house shelter:

Coyote’s hammock hangs empty across from my bed. He’s an insomniac and often disappears on walks at night. On nights like this, you’d think he’d want to take shelter in the tree house, but Coyote loves storms. Nobody knows where he goes but he usually comes back long after I’m asleep.

Coyote is also a beloved father. His daughter Aura makes her appearance within the first few pages of the book during a home birth with his loving partner, Jade. Aura calls him Yo-Yi. Here's glimpse of Coyote and two-year-old Aura at Saffron Freedom Community.
Aura runs behind Coyote carrying a basket of wild berries in her chubby arms. She follows him everywhere. Half the time Coyote has Aura’s little legs curled around his neck as he moves around the compound with her on his shoulders. She hangs on to his dreadlocks like reins, leaning this way and that as if they’re two heads on one body. Coyote often has bits of food in his hair from her munching on apples or carrots while she floats around on his shoulders.

Blue often seeks  answers to his many questions from his older brother and confidant. In one of the most telling scenes from the book, Clover Blue wonders about Coyote's motivations for leaving boot camp and fleeing to the commune:

“I was just wondering if you ever wish you didn’t go AWOL. I mean wouldn’t it have been easier to just do your stint and be done? Or turn yourself in and take the punishment now that the Vietnam war is over?”
Coyote lets the truck door gently swing back closed. He looks me up and down while he chews a little on his lower lip. “You know we live in a bubble here, right? Things are crazy different out there in the real world. They sent all the brothers to Nam, put ’em on the front lines. Most of them came home in body bags. My ‘stint,’ as you call it, meant I’d have to kill people, you realize that?”

 “It was a stupid question.”
“No, it’s not. You need to know this. That war was for the military industry. Most are. But the war against the black man is far from over. What they most want to take away from us is our dignity and our freedom.”

Finally, Coyote is also quietly compassionate, as revealed by newcomer Rain:

My first day here, everything was so, I don’t know, different. I was scared. Coyote sat here on the other side of me. My hand was shaking so bad the food kept falling off the fork. He put his hand over mine and held it. He said, ‘It’s cool, sister. Everyone here is your friend.’ His words calmed me down. I’ll never forget that.

To be frank, as a white woman who grew up in the Midwest, creating a believable character like Coyote, a black man from Oakland, CA, was challenging. But it also presented a unique opportunity to underscore the issues of the day, and give voice to the disparity in African American military recruits who were sent to the front lines, and the unrelenting bigotry they endured. I don't for a minute profess to know what it would be like to walk in Coyote's shoes, but I hope that I've imprinted the reader's heart with one man's indelible footprints.

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Only 39 days until the release of CLOVER BLUE. I hope you'll pre-order your copy today, currently 34% off the cover price! 


And don't forget, my debut novel This I Know will be out in paperback on April 30. 


Monday, April 8, 2019

Willow and Wave: The Surfer and the Yogi

The wound is the place where the Light enters you. --Rumi

When I was a young girl I slipped out from under a blow-up swim ring at the lake near our home. I panicked, flailing and gulping water until a nearby adult grabbed me by the arm and pulled me to safety. From that point on, I was terrified of drowning. Despite a number of swimming lessons throughout my life, I'm still not a strong swimmer. That childhood experience, and the accompanying emotions are as fresh in my mind as the day it happened.

When I begin to write a new book, one of the first things I do is trace a line backward to a source of fear or pain in each new character I create. Relatable human beings, not just flat images on a page, are what draws me in as a reader. I want to know why Sirona took up midwifery, why Coyote takes lone walks at night, and why Goji traveled to India to explore mysticism instead of becoming a lawyer. I expect you do, too.

We are all molded through the nurturing we received as children. But that form is malleable, shifting shape through a litany of experiences, some that leave indelible scars. In the case of Wave, conventional parents mocked his teen-aged longing to become a singer. He left his home in Fresno and headed for the ocean, where he honed his musical skills and learned to surf. But his ambition and bravery were eventually curbed by the practical aspects of the music industry and the unpredictability of Mother Nature.

In the following scene from my forthcoming novel, Clover Blue sits in the woods with Wave, who is teaching his young mentee to play guitar:

When I ask how he first came here, Wave traces the scar on his thigh and smiles. “After the shark attack I gave up surfing and spent most days outside a coffee shop in Bodega Bay, singing for tips.”

“I don’t blame you for being afraid of the ocean after that.”

Wave slowly shakes his head. “Respect, not fear. It was a good lesson and I don’t need to learn it twice.” He strokes the neck of his beat-up guitar. “I taught myself how to play when I was your age. I had big dreams of becoming a famous singer either by myself or with a band. In the sixties, everybody and his brother was a folk singer so it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.”


We later learn that Wave eventually joined Saffron Freedom Community, where he met his soulmate, Willow, a yoga enthusiast. Willow is tall and strong and disciplined in her daily practice of yoga and meditation. From the outside, she appears solid and unwavering in her status as the group's alpha female, often delegating chores to the other sister-mothers, though she is the only woman who remains childless. 

When a new girl (Rain) arrives at the commune, she asks Clover Blue to help her get to know the others. This is how he describes Willow to her. 

"Willow holds her thoughts inside. She keeps us on track with things like homework and chores. She taught me to read by the time I was four."

What neither Blue nor Rain can possibly know is that Willow's deep focus and intense discipline is steeped in the chaos of former experiences. Beneath her strong exterior, she harbors a deep pain that grows into a hardened knot, one that no asana can ever unwind. Willow can try to control herself and the people around her, but eventually she must allow herself to be vulnerable or risk becoming the knot itself.

Jumping back to my own childhood swimming trauma, many years later my young son and I signed up for a river rafting expedition while on vacation near Moab. The trip was overbooked, so Jacob and I were put in an inflatable "ducky" kayak and instructed to follow behind the larger raft. I was nervous, of course, but my son was so excited I couldn't back out. Besides, we were wearing life vests. What could go wrong? A few things, as it turns out. 

Being an inexperienced kayaker, I paddled too close behind the large raft. When the back end of the big yellow raft lifted out of the river rapids, I over-corrected to keep from nosing under it. The ducky flipped and dumped my son and me into the rapids. While seasoned company employees rescued Jacob, I found myself stuck under the kayak, unable to right it.The river current sent me hurtling into yet more frothing rapids. Terrified, I was seven years old all over again, certain I was about to drown.

And then something shifted. I stopped panicking and accepted my situation. I remember thinking, "I'm going to drown." I was taking water into my lungs, and yet I relaxed. It was the most peaceful moment I've ever experienced, almost blissful. I could see light shining through the blue plastic of the duckie, like a summer sky. And in that serene moment of acceptance, a voice in the back of my mind said, punch the ducky one more time. So I did, and it flipped off and away from me.

I tell this story because so often we react from a place of past fear, guilt, pain or unmet needs. It's human nature to try and fix the past by attempting to control the present. But control is an illusion. Eventually Wave will need to choose whether to face his fears and ride his board into the surf again. Willow will choose whether to confront her past demons as well. It's one of life's biggest questions: Do we let the past form us or inform us?

I hope you'll lose yourself in CLOVER BLUE's world, surrounded by all these unique characters as they make their choices, good and bad. Only fifty more days to go! You can pre-order the book from amazon. Better yet, pre-order CLOVER BLUE from your local bookstore here.


Join me for the exciting book launch of CLOVER BLUE and the paperback release of THIS I KNOW

Upcoming 2019 Dates:


407 Columbus St, Grand Haven, MI
Thurs May 16, 7:00 PM
714 Washington Grand Haven, MI
Sunday May 19, 1:00 PM
894 Marsh St. San Luis Obispo, CASaturday June 1, 2:00 PM
18512 McArthur Blvd, Irvine, CA
Monday June 3, 6:00 PM
1680 Mission Dr. Solvang, CA
Saturday June 8, 1:00 PM
1775 Dove Lane, Carlsbad, CA
Sunday June 9, 2:00 PM
3321 State St., Santa Barbara, CA
Monday, July 29, 7:00 PM
855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA
Thursday, August 1, 7:00 PM
138 N. Main St, Sebastopol, CA
Friday August 2, 7:00 PM

Monday, March 25, 2019

How to Grow A Guru


"Goji is the leader, but he doesn’t call himself that. He is kind of a guru, though, and everyone looks up to him." --Clover Blue, age 10

gu·ru
/ˈɡo͝oro͞o/
noun 
A spiritual teacher, especially one who imparts initiation.

My dad was my first guru, an evangelical minister who led congregations with his engaging personality, and who inspired the idea for This I Know. My second guru was Gabrielle Roth, although I never met her. I did, however, watch her videos, dancing along wildly until I forgot where the floor left off and my feet began. I loved the Five Rhythms as Roth called them, a series of musical selections that beckoned one to move blissfully through varied rhythmic dances. I was so drawn to the spiritual and physical practice I ended up facilitating my own Ecstatic Dance gatherings for a several years.

Gabrielle Roth certainly had innumerable followers but she'd likely never call herself a guru. Her goal was to convince others to turn inward using movement as a vehicle for meditation, self-exploration, and, ultimately, personal freedom. Likewise, in creating Goji, the founder of Saffron Freedom Community in CLOVER BLUE, I wanted to explore the idea of unintentional gurus, people who hope help others free themselves from outward attachment, only to become the object of  blind devotion. And therein lies the challenge of the human ego. As many celebrities will admit, it's difficult not to lose oneself in the thrill of adoration. History teaches us that worship comes with potential abuse of power.

Goji started out as a regular guy. His parents expected him to follow in his father's lawyerly footsteps. A combination of a young man's reactionary personality and a
burgeoning cultural revolution gave birth to a generation of seekers. Goji was swept up by a desire for more meaning in his life. He traveled to Asia, where he studied Sufism, Buddhism, Taoism and other various teachings. He eventually returned to the states and became intent on creating a spiritual commune free of societal norms. Saffron Freedom Community was born in 1967, an off-the-grid commune in Northern California filled with other disillusioned young people seeking to escape the rat race.

When the commune became over-crowded with people who abused drugs, didn't carry an equal work load, and weren't respectful to nature, Goji created a manifesto of sorts that included a set of guidelines. The Book, as members call it, included a commitment to  daily yoga and meditation, equal work load,  vegetarianism, sacred sexuality, and rejection of Western medicine, among others. Most of the members fled, leaving a close-knit group devotees that become family. 

All of the above happens years before the book opens in 1974, when Clover Blue is  ten years old. By this time a slow but steady shift has occurred. Despite his proclaimed rejection of tribal hierarchy, Goji has risen to the position of leader of the SFC family. As he comes of age, young Clover Blue begins to more closely measure his beloved teacher's actions. Will Goji choose to cultivate the tenets of his supposed enlightenment or exploit the devotion of others to assuage his own unmet needs?

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Two months to go before CLOVER BLUE releases, but the publisher is offering 25 copies ahead of publication on Goodreads! Giveaway ends 04.04.19. Good luck!






Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Finding Harmony: Every Protagonist Needs a Best Friend


Your heart and my heart are very good friends. --Rumi

We've all had that one friend. She's more daring than you. She laughs loudly at her own jokes and doesn't hesitate to make you the butt of some of them. She's a little bit wild or maybe a lot wild and she often makes you uncomfortable but you secretly admire her temerity. Above all she's that fiercely loyal friend that champions your successes and mourns your losses. She would probably go to jail for you, if not lay down her life.

Today we'd call that person our BFF but Clover Blue simply calls her Harmony, the one person who understands him better than anyone else at Saffron Freedom Community. Harmony was just  five, the same age as Blue, when she and her mother, Gaia moved to SFC in the fall of 1969. Here's how he describes their arrival in my forthcoming novel, CLOVER BLUE.

I remember Harmony running out from behind her mother’s legs to give me a hug. Unlike me, she was used to being around strangers. She grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s go play!” so I took her to see our new chickens. She wasn’t the least bit afraid. She cornered one of the hens, picked it up, and kissed it. “I love you!” she said, and squeezed the squawking bird before letting it go and chasing after the next one. From that day on I’ve spent as much time as possible trying to absorb her courage, her bright fire. 

I loved writing this character, the charming foil to my earnest protagonist's more staid and careful personality. She's an artist who carries her sketchpad everywhere. She pushes Blue, often to the brink of embarrassment, possibly terror, as she romps wildly through the pages of Blue's life. Although all "Youngers" in the commune are considered siblings and the rivalry between Blue and Harmony is apparent, they forge a friendship that goes beyond family, a bond so closely interwoven that each feels lost without the other. When Harmony runs off in a fit a anger, it's Blue who always knows where to find her.

When nobody’s paying attention, I slip behind the outhouse and over the hill and race toward the woods. Just inside the cover of trees, I hook a quick right along the edge to our secret deer path. I follow it to a wooden bridge that Harmony and I made from a fallen log, and cross the creek. I stop when I get to the hollowed-out trunk. It used to be big enough for us both to curl up inside together and tell stories. I drop to my knees and poke my head inside. Sure enough, there she is, looking as mean and stubborn as that rooster we had for a while before it got eaten by a bobcat.

Blue knows that Harmony's roughshod rebelliousness and unpredictable temper is an attempt to hide the pain she feels after Gaia abandons her. Harmony is just eight years old when her mother leaves for a Grateful Dead concert and doesn't return. Blue understands all too well what it's like not knowing where one's mother is, as he's never been told who his biological parents are. With the urging of his fearless best friend, Harmony, he's finally able to risk everything in his quest for truth.


What about you? Do you have a fiercely loyal friend like Harmony who is the fire to your water, the woo-hoo to your uh-oh? Give them a shout out here, or on my Facebook author page where I've linked this post. I'll be drawing a name for two decks of CLOVER BLUE playing cards, one each for you and your friend.

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I'm blogging about the characters leading up to the release of CLOVER BLUE, now available for pre-order online or better yet, pre-order from your local bookstoreBe sure to follow my blog by clicking on the link in the upper right column to be notified of new content and future giveaways!



Friday, February 8, 2019

Clover Blue: The Boy and The Book

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. --Kahlil Gibran

I was a child of the seventies but had little awareness of the cultural revolution that book-ended my rural upbringing. Sheltered within the bubble of small town life, the most scandalous thing ever was when a busload of hippies stopped off at our tiny ice cream parlor clad in flowing gauze and scanty bikinis. 

I remember being seriously bummed that I'd missed the spectacle. Although I was the daughter of an evangelical preacher, it was clear to me from a very young age that a drunken stork must have mistaken Lake Michigan for the Pacific Ocean when he dropped me on our doorstep. While other children were playing hopscotch and jumping rope, my teachers would often find me writing poetry in a field beyond the playground. By the age of thirteen I was writing songs, a guitar slung over my back as I hiked beyond the meadow near our home. I loved my family dearly but I longed to find my tribe.

In writing CLOVER BLUE I wanted to draw a thread through the the needle of those early longings. Not just the fantasy of what it might be like to grow up in a 1970s commune, but someone who grapples with invisible loyalties between family and tribe. The book opens when young Blue attends a birth. He's been told that all the women are equally his mothers. It's not until he witnesses the love between sister-mother Jade and the biological father (Coyote) of their newborn baby that an ache rises in his belly. He wants to know, must know, which of the women gave birth to him. 

“Who did I come out of?”
All heads instantly turn toward me. I look at Willow. “Are you my mother?” Then down at Jade, now clutching the baby to her bare chest. “Or you?”
Harmony stares at me, her big eyes suddenly mirroring my question, the one I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to ask. 

And so begins Clover Blue's quest for truth. Although community leader Goji promises to reveal more when Blue is older, he's fed mere scraps of truth and anecdotal tidbits as he and his best friend Harmony try to weave together the story of his history. Despite his yearning, Clover Blue is conflicted about delving into the unknown because he loves his community and strives to follow the teachings of The Peaceful Way. It isn't until he comes of age and begins to unravel inconsistencies in the stories he's been told that he becomes quietly obsessed with his heritage.

If I had to describe Clover Blue to an interviewer, I'd say he's intelligent, earnest and eager to please. He's a dedicated follower of the community teachings who embraces what he considers an idyllic life, living in a tree house, surrounded by nature and people who love him. It's Blue's best friend Harmony who brings out his lighter side, constantly taunting him with her wicked humor and relentless teasing. Harmony and Blue have been joined at the hip since her mother (Gaia) brought her to SFC at the age of five. Their kinship is a mix of brother-sister rivalry and devoted comrades. 

CLOVER BLUE by Eldonna Edwards
I love writing coming-of-age stories because they are a reflection of the people we were before we became the people we are. It probably comes as no surprise that I eventually moved to California in search of my tribe. I don't live in a commune, but I have created a sacred space to live, love, laugh and write. I can't wait for you to meet Clover Blue, and hopefully, fall in love with him as deeply as I did. Perhaps you'll recognize someone you know. Perhaps that person is a younger version of the one in your mirror.


What about you? What were your deepest longings as you came of age? How have those early desires manifested in your adult life?

*****

Our First Review!

I hope you'll pop over and read this extraordinary in-depth review of CLOVER BLUE by D.B. MooneI'd love it if you leave a comment on her book blog and don't hesitate to share it!

"Mesmerizing and riveting. Eldonna Edwards has written an artistically gripping story that will leave you book-drunk. Clover Blue is a profound, coming of age literary piece of work by an author without limit." --D.B. Moone Book Reviews


CLOVER BLUE is available for Pre-Order at: Barnes & NobleHudson BooksellersAmazon,  Books-A-MillionIndieBoundWalmart,  Amazon (Kindle)AppleGoogleKobo, and Nook.