Category Archives: Canadian

Writers Need Community…

There. I said it.

I would love to dispel the myth that writers are solitary creatures who wince at the light of day and run from the possibility of community with other writers. The problem may well be that not all writers know this. Not all writers have a community like the writing community that I am a part of. This makes me terribly sad.

My community is the Writers’ Community of Durham Region. We are over 300 strong. And we support and nurture one another in our writing goals. Competition and jealousy do not survive within this community. We do not knock each other down to get to the finish line, to achieve our writing and publishing goals. On the contrary. We carry each other over the hurdles and finish lines. We celebrate our individual achievements as a whole. We celebrate each other as we celebrate the written word. And…believe it or not…we are NOT a cult.

We are a club, yes…but we are not inclusive. ANYBODY can join. ANYBODY can participate. ANYBODY can benefit.

I’m talking about the Writers’ Community of Durham Region because our monthly Roundtable Meeting is fast approaching. About 100 or so of us get together once a month (except for August) on an early Saturday morning to break bread and network. It’s an amazing opportunity to put on the WRITER hat and BE a writer. AND, there’s a special guest speaker at every meeting! And the opportunity to take both a workshop and a Blue Pencil manuscript session.

The best part, for those in the city (TORONTO), is that this takes place JUST east of the city. The meetings are held at the AJAX CONVENTION CENTRE just off highway 401 in Ajax, Ontario. And EVERYONE is welcome to attend. You don’t even have to be a WCDR member.

As writers, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to treat ourselves to writerly things. Like these breakfast meetings. Like workshops. Like conferences. When we are living the writing life, we become better writers. We immerse ourselves in the lifestyle.

Check out the WCDR. You owe it to yourself. And if you’re from Toronto, please don’t do yourself the disservice of thinking you live too far away to become involved in this stupendous organization.

CLICK ON THIS LOGO TO BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY!

CLICK ON THIS LOGO TO BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY!

Watch the Youtube video about the Roundtable Meetings:

 

The WCDR Roundtable Meetings take place on the second Saturday of every month but August. Visit the WCDR site by clicking on the logo above to discover more about the organization. There are always events going on. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to live the writing life in one of the world’s most vibrant and active writing communities…

 

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Another Goodreads Giveaway – Sebastian’s Poet – Growing Up in Toronto in the Beaches…

Sebastian’s Poet is a novel about a boy growing up in the Beaches district of Toronto in the 1970s. It follows a young Sebastian Nelson from the day he meets famous folksinger Teal Landen to the cusp of the 1980s. It’s the story of his struggles with a bohemian father and absent mother. And it’s the story of his tumultuous relationship with his younger brother, Renee, and the folksinger who blew into town one day and never left.

Goodreads is running a giveaway for a print copy of Sebastian’s Poet. You can enter by clicking on the book cover below:

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(CONTEST OPEN TO U.S.A. AND CANADA RESIDENTS)

I wrote SEBASTIAN’S POET over the course of 48hrs, during my very first Muskoka Novel Marathon in 2007. For the entire 48hrs, I listened to ANTHEM by Leonard Cohen. It greatly shaped the novel. Teal Landen IS Leonard Cohen…in many ways. I channeled Leonard to create Teal.

After the novel was completed, I contacted Leonard Cohen’s management to ask permission to use, “THERE IS A CRACK IN EVERYTHING, THAT’S HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN…” as the epigraph for the novel. I also got the line tattooed on my forearm. (-:

I also contacted Gordon Lightfoot’s management to request the use of Gordon’s character in my denouement in the final chapter of Sebastian’s Poet. His manager phoned me immediately and gave his permission…thrilled that Lightfoot could perhaps find new audiences through the book.

SEBASTIAN’S POET won BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD in the 2007 Muskoka Novel Marathon. (-:

So, there’s a bit of the history of Sebastian’s Poet. I also had a lot of fun injecting it with 70s references. (-:

HERE’S THE COVER BLURB:

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.

Enter to win your print copy today.

Looking to purchase any of my books? You can do so at most book sites, but here’s a link to my AMAZON PAGE.

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Goodreads Giveaway – Summer on Fire – YA Lit

With the release of my fourth novel on the horizon, I thought I would give a short refresher of the three published novels I already have out there in the universe. What better time for a Goodreads Giveaway! (-:

BURN BABY hits bookstore shelves December 11th. Stay tuned for book cover reveal and blog tour, etc. As my publisher is arranging all of that, I do not yet have the details.

I can tell you a bit about the Burn Baby story. Here’s the cover blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby.

The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.

How did BURN BABY come to be? Of course it was a Muskoka Novel Marathon novel. I wrote it over the course of 72-hours during the 2012 Muskoka Novel Marathon. Then I edited it for about six months, prior to giving it to my agent Stacey Donaghy. Stacey found a home for it almost immediately at Curiosity Quills, who also took my 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel, Half Dead & Fully Broken (which will release in January, 2015). Voila!

Now, on to my three published novels. (-:

SUMMER ON FIRE was released in 2011. It’s young adult. It has received some phenomenal reviews which completely blew me away. I thought it was time for Goodreads to give away another copy. So, you can head over to Goodreads right now and enter. It’s easy-peasy. CLICK on the cover below and you will be taken to the contest at Goodreads:

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Simply click on the ENTER TO WIN button and follow the instructions. This contest is open to USA and CANADIAN residents.

Here’s the cover blurb for SUMMER ON FIRE:

Zach Carson is a loyal friend. But is loyalty enough to keep best friends together when one of them sets fire to the rural barn they use as the local hangout? Zach, Jeff Barsell and Arnie Wilson struggle to pick up the pieces when news spreads that a body was discovered in the burnt out shell of the neighbouring home. When the word murder is used by the local police, the stakes grow even higher. When the police start searching for their most likely suspect-none other than Jeff’s older brother, and nemesis, Marty Barsell-the boys decide to join forces and come up with a way to prove his innocence. But just how innocent is Marty Barsell? When Marty admits to being at the scene of the crime, the three friends enlist the help of Zach’s annoying sister, Sherry, as well as the sympathetic town eccentric, Ms. Halverton. But can they keep it together long enough to save Marty, and themselves, from imminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.

Several of the reviews have likened SUMMER ON FIRE to the movie STAND BY ME, which I take as the ultimate compliment…as it is one of my favourite coming-of-age movies.

Why I have your attention, here’s the cover blurbs for the other two novels currently available:

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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.

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In the midst of absence, death, and insanity, Tobias longs to make his family whole again.

With a mostly absent father, a deceased older sister, a younger sister on the verge of invisibility, and a certifiably insane mother, Tobias Reason is forced to grow up quickly. Though he tries to be a surrogate parent to his sister, their broken mother, Maggie, takes up a lot of his time. Annabel falls to the wayside and becomes a ghost in their chaotic existence.

When Maggie flippantly hands her mother’s house over to Tobias, he sees an opportunity to learn how and why his family became so shattered. Be careful what you wish for. When his world begins to collapse from the weight of unburied secrets, he focuses on a stranger from his parents’ past. Only by eliminating the past, he believes, can he make his family whole again.

If you made it this far, leave a comment and you will be entered to win an ebook of your choosing from the three novels currently available. In the comment, mention which title you’d like to win. You will be entered. Another easy contest. (-:

Thanks for stopping by!

GOODREADS CONTEST CLOSES AUGUST 15, 2014–Enter today!

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Another Muskoka Novel Marathon has Come and Gone

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And another Muskoka Novel Marathon is over. My seventh!

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I had an interesting challenge from one of my sponsors this year. EAT MAPLE SYRUP AND I WILL SPONSOR YOU FOR $50. Sounds easy enough. Everybody likes maple syrup, right? I mean, isn’t it a law in Canada that all citizens are required to love the shit?

I hate it. I hate the syrup itself, and I particularly hate anything maple flavoured. Donuts, cookies, candy, what have you. When Mel Cober threw down the villainous challenge, I terrifyingly took her up on it. And, wonder of wonders, she actually trusted that I would go through with it. She fronted me the donation before I left for the marathon. So, I had no choice. I arranged to have a maple syrup chow-down at the marathon. Check out the video here:

Why do we do these silly things we do? Because we believe everyone has the right to literacy. I’m willing to eat maple syrup to make that happen. The marathon is all about raising funds and awareness for the literacy programs of YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka Literacy Services.

Just outside the beautiful Muskoka Novel Marathon venue in Huntsville, Ontario!

Just outside the beautiful Muskoka Novel Marathon venue in Huntsville, Ontario!

This year, we were given an almost final tally of $23,000 raised. THAT is amazing! That alone makes the whole sleepless marathon worth it. But we also benefit from having a whole 72hr period where we don’t have to worry about anything else in the world but writing. I LOVE that part of the deal. We get to WRITE.

My word count was low this year, but it doesn’t matter. I have a work in progress now. Something to work on and flesh out. I am happy with that. What more can I ask for!

We didn’t have to ask for more, but we definitely got it! Saturday night was NUIT BLANCHE NORTH. Some of the 40 writers present cut loose and walked down into downtown Huntsville to take in the sights of the event, myself included.

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It’s always interesting to see what’s what at Nuit Blanche North. And it always takes place mid-marathon. (-:

Nuit Blanche North - Downtown Huntsville, Ontario - July 12, 2014

Nuit Blanche North – Downtown Huntsville, Ontario – July 12, 2014

 

And that wasn’t all. There was more. I got to see my Camino mentor, Sue Kenney! She led some of the readers through a barefoot creative walk on the Sunday morning of the marathon. Watching my fellow writers discover Sue and her all-round wonderfulness was so great. I’ve known her for a few years and I walked the Camino with her this past May…I knew they were in for a treat.

Creative Walk - Letting in the light and preparing for day 2 of our writing marathon!

Creativity Walk with Sue Kenney – Letting in the light and preparing for day 2 of our writing marathon!

That walk transported me back to the Camino. Such a great way to begin our Sunday!

Creativity Walkers

Creativity Walkers

Sometime over the course of the weekend I spotted four writers in the food line-up wearing t-shirts from four different MNM marathons. I had to take a pic…

T-shirts from various Muskoka Novel Marathon years...

T-shirts from various Muskoka Novel Marathon years…

 

Another great marathon was had by all. I so love this event. It’s not just about raising money for literacy programs. It isn’t just about getting a whole weekend to do nothing but write. It isn’t just about the amazing camaraderie of spending a weekend with 40 writers. It’s all those things and more. I honestly can’t say enough about the event. I think all writers should have the writing marathon experience. But not just any writing marathon. This particular one is exceptional. Thanks for another great year, MNM!

Oh, and here’s something to put a smile on your face. Charlie is extraordinary!

Smiling Buddha - Charlie at one month old...

Smiling Buddha – Charlie at one month old…

 

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