It’ll Come To Ya – A World Without Ned

The character in IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY who kept repeating the phrase It’ll come to ya was right. It does come to me. Every once in a while I’ll be reading or writing…just lost in words and I’ll think Ned Vizzini is dead. Yeah, it comes to me. Like a shit-ton of bricks. It slaps me across the face.

I hate suicide.

NED VIZZINI - April 4, 1981 – December 19, 2013
NED VIZZINI – April 4, 1981 – December 19, 2013

Ned Vizzini wrote about a difficult subject, one that quite often gets swept under the carpet. And he wrote it for a young adult audience. It’s comforting, when one is struggling with depression and mental illness, to know that they are not alone. Where a lot of people don’t talk about these issues, Ned Vizzini took them on face-first. To read IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY is to see the face of depression head on. Ned wrote about it so well because he suffered from it. So much so that he ended his own life this past December.

He had an enchanted life. His writing was widely appreciated. He had a gazillion fans. The movie version of his novel IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY (and the book itself is on NPR’s 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels list) was a great success. He had a wife and a young son. For all intents and purposes, he was living the life…on top of the world.

It’s not fair. I hate suicide.

Yeah. Sometimes it comes to me. Ned Vizzini is dead.

 

 

CALLER 107 Blog Tour – Catch a Glimpse of the New Matthew Cox Title!

Blog Tour

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Caller 107 by Matthew Cox is now available for purchase!

Genre: young-adult, contemporary paranormal

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

 

Description:

When thirteen-year-old Natalie Rausch said she would die to meet DJ Crazy Todd, she did not mean to be literal.

Two years is a long time to be stuck between two people that want nothing more than to destroy each other. A tween crush on the larger-than-life jock from a local radio station is the only trace of a once-happy life ruined by warring parents.

Whenever WROK 107 ran a contest, she would dive for the phone, getting busy signals and dead air every time. She never expected to get through, but at least with her best friend at her side, it used to be fun.

Before her parents ruined that too.

Her last desperate attempt to get their attention, falling in with a dangerous group of older teens, goes as wrong as possible. With no one left to blame for her mess of a life but herself, karma comes full circle and gives her just a few hours to make up for two years’ worth of mistakes–or be forever lost.

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MATTHEW COX: Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey. Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.

And now for a sneak peak into CALLER 107! This excerpt is from CHAPTER 5 of the young adult novel:

 

The hot shower helped her mood; the wall of silence that hung over breakfast and the ride to school did not. Mrs. Mendoza was off that day, and her mother’s culinary efforts were limited to dumping cereal in a bowl and carrying the unopened bottle of milk to the table. Even toast was a challenge. Natalie kept her arms folded and her gaze out the passenger side window. After last night, she wanted to stay as far away from Etan, Kevin, and Cory… even Jason, as she could. That had been far too close. She wondered if they had gotten away. The police cruiser had come in quiet; somehow, she set off a silent alarm. If they got pinched, she had no doubt they would drag her into it. After all, she was the one that set off the alarm.

 
After that night, she wanted―needed―comforting, but the only thing Mother offered was more yelling and derision. She should talk. Why did Mother do that to their family? What happened to the woman that she used to admire? By the time the car squeaked to a halt by the private school, Natalie was crying. She did not look over before getting out. As her boot hit the street, she froze; one hand on the door and her back turned. A sense of something wafted out of the car that made her pause. If Mother apologized for being a bitch, Natalie would fall apart right there―she might even apologize herself, perhaps even hug her. Was she going to say sorry? Come on, Mom, you can do it… please.

 
“Have a good day, hon. Please think about what you’re doing with yourself.”

 
Bitch. Slam.

 
Mother had no idea how shallow she was; much less see what she was doing to the people she supposedly loved. Natalie trudged through the courtyard, clinging to her backpack, ignoring the other kids trickling in just a little late. The massive front door guard offered an honest smile as she shrugged through the metal detector. For him, she managed to brighten up. He was the only one in this entire building that did not judge anyone.

 
“Morning Darius.”

 
“You a’ight?” Buttons threatened to spring off his white shirt as he leaned forward. The security guard hat tilted at an odd angle, balanced atop thick cornrows. “You don’t look so good.”

 
“I’m okay, just a fight with the bitch.”

 
He shook his head. “Y’oughta ‘spect yo’ momma, girl. Y’only get one.”

 
She frowned. “She doesn’t respect herself, why should I?”

 
Darius leaned against the wall, folding his arms with a resigned shake of the head; the stool protested his change of posture with an audible creak. Natalie wandered through the hall, pivoting through the flood of a sudden post-homeroom crowd as she continued on her way to her locker.

 
It had been a week since she had even bothered to open it; the combination took a moment to come back. 3-14-15. Pi… You are such a damn nerd. The door squeaked to the left. You’re better at nerd than you are at street punk. She frowned at the texts and notebooks. For no reason she could think of, the sight of them made her angrier with her mother. What did that lawyer do that made her father break contact? She put a hand on a thick calculus textbook, rubbing her thumb over the spine. She could pick herself up, try to start giving a shit again, but what was the point? A yearlong deliberate slide was a hard thing to pull out of, and repeating a grade would destroy any chance of early college admission.

 

Skipping senior year and going right to college was a prospect her father had been thrilled about; now, he did not even want to talk to her. She dropped a few books into the backpack and pushed the locker closed.

BUY THE BOOK:

CALLER 107 at AMAZON

Don’t forget to add CALLER 107 to your Goodreads Shelf!

 

 

 

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.

Gift Horse & Anything…

We’ve all heard the idiom NEVER LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH. What does it mean?

If someone gives you a horse, it would be extremely rude to inspect its teeth and gums. What you do is say, “Thank you.”

My gift horse is my writing. I have a bad habit of examining its teeth. But I’m working on it. I’m learning to accept that I’ve been given a gift. I am trying not to ask why. We should all practice the art of being grateful without questioning the thing that we are grateful for. I’m grateful that I get to do something I love to do…WRITE.

Here’s a song to empower and embolden. Enjoy…

 

I’m No Superman

You know what’s hard? Realizing that the things you thought no longer bother or control you still bother or control you. When you think you’re stronger than you actually are.

Sometimes our weaknesses prevent us from being whole. But we can’t allow them to define who we are. We are not our weaknesses.

 

Sometimes we have bad days. Just allow them to be what they are. The bad days help us to recognize the good ones. Tomorrow is an amazing gift. Stick around…

 

 

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…

 

Dear Writer: To Thine Own Self Be Kind

Why are writers always beating themselves up? I don’t get it. Writing is a choice. It’s a passion. It’s something we presumably cannot live without. But alongside the passionate love notes that writers offer up to writing, there are the inevitable self-hating notes. Are we masochists?

Side-note: Masochist is a word named after–you guessed it–a WRITER. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was a nineteenth century Austrian writer who described the gratification he got from his own pain and humiliation.

So do we get gratification from the suffering we endure in the name of craft? Is that why people go on and on about the love-hate relationship they have with writing. Frankly, I see more of the hate than I see love. I often wonder why the hell some writers even bother. Between a strong desire to tell them to shut the hell up and a strong desire to lecture them on the good points of creativity I end up just feeling tired and cranky.

I enjoy writing. I don’t really suffer for the craft. A bad day of writing is better than a good day of roasting at the spit. No wounds. No antiseptic needed. I emerge from my writing relatively unscathed every single time. Sue me if you don’t like that I enjoy writing and being a writer.

What I can’t imagine is NOT having a creative outlet, not needing a creative outlet. I count my lucky stars every day I wake up a writer. What a passion to have! I can’t imagine it hurting as much as some writers complain it does. For the love of candy, let go of the animosity. If you are experiencing pain writing, you’re doing something wrong. Stop equating writing with misery. Go knit if you can’t take it. Or weave baskets. Find another outlet.

Just sit. Just write. For the love of all things writerly, be kind to yourself. Enjoy that you get to play with words. This isn’t a job or a chore, it’s a passion. Treat it that way. Be passionate. Be happy. Write.

 

Listed – How to Write a Novel

 

 

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  • Dream up an idea that is bigger than the spot in your brain that contains it.
  • Transfer the idea from your brain to your heart.
  • Knead idea with the milkblood of your heart.
  • Push the idea out of your heart and into the highways and byways of your veins.
  • Allow the idea to float through your body for as long as you can contain the excitement.
  • When exhausted from the anticipation of giving birth to the idea, allow it to float to the ends of your arms and down into your fingers.
  • Send the idea through the ends of your finger tips down into your keyboard.
  • Watch the idea come to life on the computer screen in front of you.
  • Be amazed! You are creator.
  • Once idea has been fully purged, type THE END into the same keyboard you allowed the idea to escape into.
  • Sit back and be well pleased with yourself.

Enjoy some SHADOW STABBING from Cake. (-:

 

If You Can Read This Blog Post Title, You Could Help Me to Help Those Who Can’t…

The Muskoka Novel Marathon is a fundraiser in support of Adult Literacy initiatives in Huntsville, Ontario. But more than that, it’s an opportunity for writers to come together in a supportive environment and spend an entire, (mostly) uninterrupted weekend writing. Friends are made, stories are shared, and the occasional midnight desk chair race breaks up the late-night silence. ~ From the Muskoka Novel Marathon Website

If you have been reading my blog, you will know by now that I am passionate about the Muskoka Novel Marathon. And extremely passionate about literacy.

 

Two out of every five Canadians struggles with basic reading and writing.  It affects their jobs, their health and their family.  Funds raised at the Muskoka Novel Marathon are donated to YMCA Muskoka Literacy Services (part of YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka) and help keep the doors open to those in the community that want to overcome literacy challenges for a better life. ~ From the Muskoka Novel Marathon Website

READ THE WHERE THE FUNDS GO PAGE OF THE MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON SITE HERE.

In the world of reading, I firmly believe that nobody should be left behind. To be illiterate in today’s society is to live every day with a dark monster at your heels…eating away at your potential, your light, your self-esteem. When you are unable to read, it negatively impacts every single aspect of your day to day life.

I could ask you to try to live in this world for an hour as though you cannot read. You might even think you would be able to do it…to grasp the concept…to walk (or drive) down the street and pretend to be unable to read all the words that come your way inside of that hour. You would be able to imagine some form of empathy…as you would think that not seeing the words would be a reasonable facsimile to illiteracy. You could pretend to be unable to read traffic signs, directions, a cereal box, an ingredient list for possible allergy foods, advertisements, your mail, you name it. But the bottom line is that reading is something you can’t be unfamiliar with once you have a grasp of how to do it. You can’t put yourself in the shoes of someone who struggles with literacy. It’s impossible. The closest you can get to experiencing it would be for me to pick you up and plant you down in the middle of a country where all the signs are in a language you’ve never seen before. How quickly would you feel lost? Alone? Scared? Judged? Segregated? Marginalized? Disoriented? Angry? Sad? Disillusioned? Incompetent?

So, I can’t ask you to imagine the struggles you would face if you were illiterate. I can only ask you to sympathize with those who do struggle with literacy.

On July 11th, I head up to Huntsville, Ontario, for my 7th Muskoka Novel Marathon. Yes…I will have a hell of a lot of fun at the novel writing marathon. I will write my face off. Hopefully I will walk away from the weekend with a new completed novel under my belt. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. One never knows going in if they’re going to achieve their goal. It’s a lot of fun to be locked in with a room full of writers. A LOT OF FUN. But it’s also a hell of a hard thing to do…write a novel in one sitting. At any rate, I get a great weekend of writing out of this commitment. A gift you couldn’t imagine!

I can’t arrive to the marathon empty-handed. I need sponsors. I need for people to see the value in donating money to literacy efforts in Simcoe County/Muskoka. Your donations can help chase away that dark monster that bites at the heels of those who struggle with literacy. The programs in place to assist them are designed to get them on their feet and fully integrated into the world currently beyond their comprehension. Your donations can turn on the light and make the darkness vanish. What say you? I will sit on my keister for 72 hours and write non-stop and hope that the media spotlight that hits the marathon brings in some much needed funds and awareness. That’s the easy part (and as mentioned above, a lot of fun). Will you make a small donation to help me to help them?

Click on the image below to go directly to my CANADA HELPS GIVING PAGE, where you can donate online:

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If you would rather donate to a literacy program in your own community, please do so. If we inspire anyone to donate money to literacy anywhere, we have won.

Thank you in advance!