Book Signing at AVID READER MAGAZINE & BOOKS – May 2nd for Authors for Indies

authors-for-indies1This coming Saturday is the day to get thee to your local independent bookstore!

I will be at THE AVID READER MAGAZINES & BOOKS in Cobourg, Ontario.

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I’ll be signing my books and promoting 5 of my favourite books – From NOON to 2PM.avidThere will be copies of both of my latest young adult novels available! BURN BABY BURN BABY and HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN.

img_20150310_162230If you are in the area, I’d love to see you! If not…make sure to visit your local indi-bookstore on SATURDAY MAY 2nd! This is a cross-country event…a day to celebrate the bookstore!

The schedule for authors appearing at Avid Reader on Saturday is as follows:

Like AVID READER MAGAZINES & BOOKS on FACEBOOK!

Learn all about the day at AUTHORS FOR INDIES!

Follow the celebration on Twitter:

Authors For Indies Twitter Handle: @Authors4Indies

And Hashtag your part in the festivities with #Authors4Indies

Let’s show Canadian Independent Bookstores how much we love them!


2015 Ontario Writers’ Conference – A Feast for Writers Everywhere!

I have been remiss. I have yet to plug Ontario’s premier writerly event of the year! The 2015 Ontario Writers’ Conference is FAST approaching. If you are a writer, this is an event you cannot afford to miss.

At one time I was fully involved with the conference. I was on the board of directors on its inception and lived and breathed the conference for almost eight years. I was extremely sad to leave the amazing organization. I became too busy, my life became too complicated. It was a number of things that took me away from the conference. My love of the conference was NOT one of them. I’ll always be a friend to the OWC. That’s why I feel badly for not having blogged about them once this year.

Here’s everything you will need to know about the Ontario Writers’ Conference.

The Incomparable Wayson Choy!

The Incomparable Wayson Choy!

I’ll start with WAYSON CHOY. The conference’s Honorary Patron since its inception, Wayson is a friend to writers everywhere. He’s been at every conference to date. Mayhaps you will spy him at this year’s conference. If you do…don’t be afraid to approach him and engage him in conversation. He’s a lovely man and he loves to talk to other writers. You might even say he puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us writers.

Now, for this year’s feast. Here’s what the conference is looking like, workshop and lecture series wise (Click on all the clickables below to discover more about each one)…

Friday April 24

Masterclasses –

1:00 – 4:00 pm (with 15 min. break)Master Classes
1. Rich Helms – Book Trailers 101
2. Molly Peacock – The Camera-Eye of the Sonnet
3. Richard Scarsbrook – Creative Writing Kick-Start for YA Authors

Festival of Authors – The Friday Evening Gala with Interviews and Readings!

7:00 – 10:00 pm – Readers, refreshments and revelry (open to the public!)

Discover the full Festival of Authors program here!

Saturday April 25 – The Conference proper! You get to pick one workshop/lecture in each of the three time-slots.

9:30 amConcurrent Workshops

1. Terry Fallis – Podcasting 101
2. Annette McLeod – Character is King
3. Allyson Latta – Punch It Up: Editing Tips for Tighter Prose
4. ADVANCED: Andrew Borkowski – Delicious Dialogue

The Lunch at the OWC has always been a wonderful event in and of itself. This year, I’m sure, will not be any different. The luncheon speaker? WOW! A Canadian icon!

11:30 am – Cornerstone Award, Lunch Speaker is the incomparable Linden MacIntyre

1:30 pmConcurrent Workshops

1. Craig Pyette – Breaking & Entering
2. Barbara Fradkin – Blood Money
3. Anne MacLachlan – Gather Your Tribe
4. ADVANCED: Gwynn Scheltema – Should Size Matter?

3:30 pmConcurrent Lecture Series

1. Karen Connelly – Writing as Witness
2. Charles Wilkins – The Storytelling Animal
3. Johanna Raisanen – Labour of Love
4. Ali McDonald – Six of One

4:45 pm  – Closing Speaker

So, there you have the rundown on the two-day event. I would hope that you are now about to RUN, not walk, to the OWC website to register. Don’t forget…this event is JUST OUTSIDE TORONTO. Torontonians would do well to remember that there is land east of Scarborough. The OWC takes place in Ajax, just east of Scarborough…and not far from the 401. There are directions to the venue on the OWC website. There is also hotel information, should you want to come from afar! And there have always been contingents from Ottawa, the U.S.A. and points onward. Like I said, it’s a MUST SEE event for writers. Do yourself–and your writing life–a favour. Register today!

Click on the image below to go directly to the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE website:

owcI may no longer be affiliated with this conference, but I will always support it and promote it as the best educational and networking event for writers in all of Ontario…probably in all of Canada.

See you there!


Set in Toronto. Set in Canada. Are These Viable Settings for Novels?

If you’re Canadian have you ever felt the shame that goes along with it? Don’t lie. It’s there. We are the country ashamed of its culture. We are the country struggling to define its culture. We are the country used to depict American cities in movies because it’s more budget friendly. We are the country that is painstakingly removed from said movies one Toronto Star box at a time. Oops…don’t get that Tim Horton’s in the shot…this is New York, people. Remove all traces of Canada.

But sometimes…sometimes Toronto IS the best place to set a thing. Think of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. That was a delightful tour-de-force of a movie that would not have been the same in any other setting in the world. Toronto was a perfect match for Pilgrim. I’ll never forget being at the Scotiabank Theatre during the opening credits of Scott Pilgrim. The crowd went wild. That was US on that screen. Toronto. For once it was okay to be from this amazing city that seemed to require secretive measures whenever it appeared on the big screen. Toronto was a dirty little secret in Hollywood. And we all sensed it…until Scott Pilgrim.

Scott_Pilgrim_vs._the_World_teaser

Yes, Scott Pilgrim wasn’t the first movie openly set in Toronto. And it won’t be the last. It did seem like a line in the sand, though. Scott Pilgrim definitely brought out our cool side. We could do this. Toronto can be a cool setting. It is a viable world city. We need to change our perceptions.

When I started writing my 2nd published novel, I knew instinctively that the perfect setting for my bohemian 1970s family on the brink of destruction was The Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto. I love my city. I love it hard. Sebastian Nelson, the narrator of Sebastian’s Poet, had to be from Toronto. Had to be from The Beaches. And no, I won’t call it The Beach. It’s The Beaches. It will always be The Beaches.

For my first novel, I intentionally avoided naming the setting. I was afraid that agents wouldn’t look at a novel that dared to mention Canada. This comes from somewhere. I didn’t dream up this self-loathing of place on my own. As Canadians, I sometimes feel we are conditioned to take the back seat. The sad part is, I think it’s mostly ourselves relegating ourselves to this stature. We have blurred lines where our nationalism is concerned. We grow up on American TV and music. We occasionally shun our own programming. We say, “That show’s Canadian” with disdain before quickly changing the channel.

I LOVE America. This is not an anti-America rant. I just wish we were comfortable enough in our own skins to not only be proud to be Canadians, but to salute our homeland in our creative endeavours. My go-to instinct, when embarking on fiction, was to never speak of Canada in my writings. I’m so glad I ignored this instinct when I created Sebastian’s Poet. Sebastian needed to be from the Queen Street East neighbourhood. He needed to know the yumminess that is THE GOOF. He needed the Eaton Centre windows at Christmas in the 70s. He needed to know Cirone’s Grocery, the TTC. He NEEDED GORDON LIGHTFOOT!

Some stories just require Canadiana in order for them to be told. Sometimes, the only place in the world where a story belongs is in Toronto. We set a tourism record here in Toronto for 2014. 14.3 million visitors. It’s time to show our streets in movies and literature. It’s time to stop being ‘New York’. We can do this. We can be ourselves. We’re good enough. We are a viable setting.

15725603My Toronto set novel, Sebastian’s Poet, is the story of a boy growing up with a bohemian father on a path of destruction in the 1970s and the folksinger who tries to rescue him from the chaos.

From Amazon:

Sebastian Nelson is a boy in search of a family. Abandoned by his mother, Sebastian is left with a broken father who doesn’t even seem present when he does show up. Forced to be the main caregiver of his younger brother, Renee, and lost in a sea of indifference, Sebastian only wants to experience the love a real, stable family could afford him.

One morning he discovers the famous folksinger, Teal Landen, asleep on the sofa. Teal’s nurturing nature brings an immediate sense of security into Sebastian’s tumultuous life. But a dark secret looms between Teal and Sebastian’s father of a hidden past. Sebastian is driven to discover their secret, but also he’s aware of how tenuous their hold on Teal really is. He doesn’t want to lose the feeling of home Teal’s presence has brought him.

If Sebastian pushes too hard, he could lose Teal forever. He could be destined to raise his younger brother alone, while witnessing the total decline of his emotionally devastated father. If Sebastian is abandoned by the only healthy influence in his otherwise shaky existence, he will also be forever in the dark about the secret that will reveal so much about his fractured family.

LOOK INSIDE and 1-CLICK Sebastian’s Poet today at Amazon, now on sale for $2.67.

Check out the Amazing Reviews garnered by Sebastian’s Poet on GOODREADS!


Team Carter Begins in 4 Days. Change Everything (MNM, MaleSurvivor)

I’m getting excited about the arrival of my 5th novel, HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN. I remember with great fondness writing this one at the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon! I’m sure you’ve heard all about this marathon by now. It takes place in a small town in Northern Ontario…but its reputation has now gained something of an international notoriety. For those of you NOT acquainted with the marathon, I will share with you now the movie created to celebrate it. This movie aired on national television here in Canada. It’s comprised 100% of still images, but looks like live action. It’s really quite amazing. I can’t even remember the amount of still shots gone in to make this movie. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure:

So, basically, 30ish writers get together over a 72hour long weekend. We each write a novel. We sleep, we eat, we laugh, we cry, we angst, we shout, we sing, we get stupid, we write, we write, we write. We also each come in with sponsors. It’s a marathon to raise funds for literacy. And raise funds, we do. In 2014 alone, we raised over $21,000.00 for literacy programs in Muskoka/Simcoe County.

Half Dead is the story of Carter Colby, and his dead twin Marcus. I will include the synopsis at the end of this post. While writing this story, I was in a completely overwhelmed with emotions. It was a thrilling roller coaster ride discovering the story while I frantically wrote into the night into the morning into the afternoon into the night into the morning into the afternoon into…you get the picture. From beginning to end in 72 hours, just rushing through the story to find out what happens next. My favourite way to write. I hope I caught something in the story worth the time of my readers. I feel like I did. I cried while writing the ending. That’s usually a pretty good sign. (-:

While I have you, I like to mention an organization that has helped me in the most profound way. It’s an organization that continually saves lives. MALE SURVIVOR. Their tagline, for those who are unfamiliar with the organization, is MaleSurvivor provides critical resources to male survivors of sexual trauma and all their partners in recovery by building communities of Hope, Healing, & Support.

Below, you can watch their video entitled WHAT IS MALE SURVIVOR:

Through attending 2 of their Weekend of Recovery retreats, I count myself among those saved by Weekend of Recovery. They made me realize that I had the power to change everything. Only when one is willing to work on past pain, can one eventually become free of it. Please consider this my semi-regular shout-out to Male Survivor. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, or know someone who is, there is no need to suffer in silence. Seek help. If not from MaleSurvivor, then from an organization in your area. The more we raise our voices against sexual abuse, the more resources we will have to combat its effects. You are not alone. And it is not your fault. Rebirth is just a step away. Having waited over 30 years to take that step, I know intimately how difficult it is to take it. But I promise you, it gets better once you take that first step. The road to recovery from the all-encompassing and devastating effects of sexual abuse is right there…just waiting.

So, here’s the cover for HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN. You can click on it to go to Amazon, where it is already available for PRE-ORDER:

51OeS9ITAHL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-46,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The story goes like this:

Carter Colby is the most unpopular teen at Jefferson High. This would be easier to deal with if his identical twin brother, Marcus, weren’t the hottest, most popular boy in school.

When Marcus is killed in a motorcycle accident, Carter discovers the one thing more painful than trying to compete with Mr. Wonderful: wearing his dead brother’s face. He felt invisible before the accident, but with Marcus dead, everybody turns away from him in mourning. How can he blame them? He can’t bear to look in the mirror.

When Carter begins to see Marcus’ ghost, Mr. Wonderful’s quest to save the world and spread happiness may not be over after all, even in death. Marcus knows that Justin Dewar, the boy who drove the truck that crashed into his motorbike, is struggling with the guilt of taking a life. Melanie, Marcus’ mourning girlfriend, was also hit hard by the tragedy. Marcus wants to make things right before it’s too late.

With Marcus’ help, Carter experiences love and friendship for the first time in his life. But is Mr. Wonderful’s helping hand enough for Carter, Melanie, and Justin – three kids fully broken by the tragedy – to save one another?

Half Dead comes out on Monday January 19th. It will be my 5th published novel. It was also my 3rd of 4 BEST NOVEL AWARD wins at the Muskoka Novel Marathon. I am absurdly proud of my wins at the MNM. If you pick up #HDAFB, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I also hope that, at one point or another, you cry like a baby. (-: Looking forward to your indoctrination into #TeamCarter (-;

In other news, my BURN BABY BURN BABY is getting the most incredible reviews I’ve ever had. It was released last month and has had a steady stream of beautiful praise that has left me speechless. You can check out Burn Baby Burn Baby on Amazon by clicking the book cover below:

51Wb19wCHtL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_You can find all my books on GOODREADS RIGHT HERE.

Remember one thing…you have the power to change everything. No matter what it is. Either for yourself or for others. Don’t be afraid to use that power.

I leave you with the song that began to play while I walked into my first MALE SURVIVOR WEEKEND OF RECOVERY. It gutted me like nothing ever gutted me before or after. The anxiety I was feeling, dealing with uncovering a lifetime of darkness, might have had something to deal with it. But I still can’t listen to this song without shattering. It came to me at the moment of my first step. I knew it was going to be one of the hardest weekends of my life. And I also knew, as I listened to this song, that it would be my rebirth.

MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN.


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