Tag Archives: Novels

Part One of My Radio Interview with Charlene Jones OFF THE TOP at Whistle Radio! And You Got Your Genre in My Peanut Butter!

I was interviewed by CHARLENE JONES of Whistle Radio Stouffville for the OFF THE TOP segment! Today, I’m going to share part one of the show.

We talked about my novel writing process, the Muskoka Novel Marathon, Driftwood Theatre and Trafalgar24

You can find CHARLENE’S WEBSITE HERE.

She is also on TWITTER.

WHISTLE RADIO 102.7 FM

Much gratitude to Charlene for interviewing me.


I can’t decide!

John Steinbeck on ideas...

John Steinbeck on ideas…

In grade school it was SO simple. You took a sheet of construction paper. You glued macaroni to it. You poked holes in it and threaded pipe cleaners into it. You painted a bit in one corner by blowing through a straw to move a blob of paint around on the page. You glued a feather to another corner. You shot the whole thing up with glitter before sticking a cut-out of your latest Wish item from the Sears catalogue into the centre. You didn’t care. You used all materials available to you. And it looked…well, bloody fantastic. It looked amazing. Art at its finest.

Why can’t we do this as adults? Why can’t we whim our lives? Madly off in all directions!

Because four-letter words are attempting to stop us, to staunch the flow of our creativity. Words like FOCUS. Okay, it’s five letters…but when you try to live within its parameters, it’s four-letter words that come up out of the frustration.

I still want to collage things. I still want to dip into whatever it is I want to do that day. I lack focus. I am easily distracted. As a writer, that’s such an incredible curse. When you don’t even know what genre you want to hang around in, it becomes an issue. Do I want to write contemporary? Do I want to write horror? Do I want to write romance? Do I want to write comedy/humour? The answer is YES. And then there are markets. Do I want to write for kids? Or teens? Or adults? The answer is YES. Heck, I can’t even pick a medium. I want to write for the stage. I want to write for the page.

After my recent Crisis of Happiness, I’m currently struggling over what it is I want to write. At first, I thought I might be struggling with whether or not I wanted to continue being a writer. But I think I have narrowed down my problem to being that I don’t know what I want to write. I don’t know what genre. I don’t know what market. I need to find a way to narrow my focus. I need a crystal ball to tell me what to do next. I have multiple projects halted and in the air. It all stems to trying to funnel myself into one distinct category when my mind wants to go off madly off in all directions.

I need to write despite the fact that I don’t know what to write. Because I’m discovering that if you don’t use it, you lose it.

But I want feathers and pipe cleaners in my paintings, dammit. Nobody puts baby in the corner. Sometimes, I feel like the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercial. I’m walking down the street with my contemporary Young Adult manuscript in hand and this horror genre comes skateboarding madly toward me and crashes into me. After the accident, I look up at my manuscript and notice it’s covered and dripping with horror. I turn to the genre with the now broken skateboard and I yell, “HEY! You got your genre in my peanut butter!”

This is not my writing life!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Musa Publishing Closing Its Doors – Two of My Books UNPUBLISHED…

I received some sad news today. Musa Publishing is closing its doors. They published SEBASTIAN’S POET and THE REASONS. Both novels won Muskoka Novel Marathon‘s BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD. Both are written from the POV of children growing up in chaos…my two titles that are NOT young adult, as some of the content is adult themed. I love these books. It’s with much sadness that I see them becoming UNPUBLISHED.

From MUSA:

We expect to conclude operation of our site, blog, and social media accounts by February 28, 2015.

I will become ‘THE AUTHOR OF THREE NOVELS’ overnight. Such a remarkably weird concept. From 5 to 3.

I think Sebastian’s Poet might be my favourite novel of mine. Maybe not because it’s the best, or for any other reason other than the experience I had of writing it. I wrote it in a whirlwind 48hr period. I listened to LEONARD COHEN’s ANTHEM on repeat for the entire period I wrote it. It was my first Muskoka Novel Marathon. It was just an absolute magical time in my life. Everything gelled for one weekend. Sebastian’s Poet was a movie in my head. I struggled to get it to paper as it played. It was an absolute joy to pen it. Those characters did ALL the work. Sincerely.

You have until the end of the month to get a copy of these two books before they’re gone, possibly forever. Hopefully, they find homes elsewhere…but the possibility of that happening is not vast.

YOU CAN FIND ALL MY WORKS AT THIS LINK TO AMAZON.COM

15725603thereasons-300dpi

Until the end of February, you can purchase both of these books wherever ebooks are sold– Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. After that…they die. The rights revert to me, the covers do not. I HOPE they’ll find new homes, but the likelihood of this happening is not probable.

BOTH BOOKS HAVE RECEIVED REMARKABLE REVIEWS!

GOODREADS REVIEWS FOR SEBASTIAN’S POET – 40 Ratings with 4.6 overall rating.

GOODREADS REVIEWS FOR THE REASONS – 13 Ratings with 4.54 overall rating.

Tobias Reason, Maggie Reason, Sebastian Nelson, Teal Landen, Renee Nelson, Gordon Lightfoot…Love them all!

So long, dear friends. It’s been an absolute slice!

(My condolences and best wishes to all the authors in the Musa Publishing House. We lost dear friends in our works today. I hope you all find new homes for your babies. Best of luck to you all.)

(I’d like to add here… I had wonderful experiences with both books, through the editing process. Both times I felt the editors did great work. I wish those at the helm of MUSA best wishes and thank them for bringing both books to life. I’m sorry to see MUSA go.)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Real Life Heroes – Who Are Yours? And How Do You Honour Them?

I have had a few readers ask who I’m referring to in my latest novel dedication. Half Dead & Fully Broken released on January 19th. I spend a lot of time writing my dedications. Maybe even more time than it takes for me to write the novel itself. (-:

First, let me share a screenshot of the dedication with you…

DedicationWe all have heroes. If we’re lucky, we have more than one. If we’re really lucky we have more than we can count on two hands. I take my hero worship seriously.

The first in the above dedication is my late uncle. He was loud, opinionated, overbearing, at times scary, and, most of all…an amazing kind-hearted soul who would do anything for the ones he loved. I don’t know why he had such a soft spot in his heart for his nephews, but he did. And he would tell us, too. I remember that he loved me and wasn’t afraid of showing it in his way. And I remember that his laughter filled every crevice of a room. Hell, it filled the sky and the trees and the grass and the bees when he happened to be outside when he laughed. Just as a room or a cathedral could not harness his laughter, the great outdoors was also no match for it. I would do anything to hear it again. And a part of me will never stop hearing it. With all of his flaws, he was an amazingly good person. His legacy proves this. So, I wanted to mention my Uncle Don in my most recent dedication.

The first thing we should do, when it comes to heroes, is remember that nobody is perfect. Don’t look for flawless perfect people to look up to. Heroes can be tarnished and flawed…and, yet, still be beautiful.

The second person in my most recent dedication, Lynne MacDonell, is someone who has dedicated her life to rescuing men (and women) suffering the serious and life-damaging side-effects of childhood sexual abuse. Lynne is a tireless champion for men (who happen to be a marginalized group in a world that still has not fully come to the realization that boys too can be victims of sexual abuse). Not only does she run her own practice here in Toronto, but she flies across North America as part of the MALE SURVIVOR WEEKEND OF RECOVERY therapist team. And on Tuesday nights, she runs 2 groups for men. TWO! Every Tuesday. Every single Tuesday. Not one, but two.

Sometimes I think of the axiom, NO MAN GETS LEFT BEHIND, when I think of Lynne and her efforts to save male victims of childhood (and otherwise) sexual abuse. She will not rest.

From Lynne’s own website (linked above):

My Practice involves the healing of survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Although I work with both men and women the majority of my clients are men and their significant others. I offer two groups for male survivors covering topics of trauma issues, safety, healthy and unhealthy coping strategies as well as many other issues. I work with my clients in groups, in relationships and as individuals.

As a member of the award winning team of Malesurvivor.org, Weekends of Recovery, I have been involved developing training for and awareness regarding male survivor issues for OPP, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, Ontario Victim Witness Services as well as many others. 

I choose my words carefully in my dedications. We crave heroes in our fiction. It is to be expected that there will be at least one hero in every work of fiction. And, as writers, we try to find the right flawed-characteristics-to-heroic-characteristics ratio…in order to make those heroic characters seem real, believable, honest, true, plausible.

Lynne MacDonell defies the logic of Fictionlandia. Does she have flaws? Sure…I’m almost positive she does. If I’m going by the belief that we all do, I have to concede that she does too. Have I seen any of them? NO. This is the part where I say, “I’m not just the president of the Hair Club for Men. I’m also a client.” I’m there, in Lynne’s second of two Tuesday night TIME FOR MEN groups as often as possible. I don’t make every single Tuesday…but I certainly try.

While my characters are stumbling around in the dark attempting to help each other, to be heroes to one another, Lynne MacDonell is out in the real world…saving lives. I know this because she played a significant role in saving mine. Including her in the front dedication of one of my books? Easiest decision I ever made.

Who are your heroes? Before you answer that question, think about what HERO means to you. It doesn’t need to be someone capable of swooping down into your life from on high to save you from Niagara Falls in that crucial last second before you go tumbling over into nothingness. We should recognize our everyday heroes. Those people who, through either big or small ways, make our lives a little bit brighter. Who offers you sunlight in your moments of darkness? Who tells you that everything will be okay? Who simply goes along for the ride with you when times are trying? Who says, “You are not alone” at those times you feel most alone?

Something else to think about. Every day, each of us has the opportunity to be someone else’s hero. Every minute we have that opportunity. Just be your best self, and you never know who will benefit from that. Every moment, we have the power to effect the life of another…both positively and negatively. If you are carrying around a pocketful of heroes, make sure to emulate them.

We can be heroes…for ever and ever…

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,802 other followers

%d bloggers like this: