Pink Shirt Day – Bullies Beware…We’re NOT Going to Take it Anymore!

Did you know that PINK SHIRT DAY began in NOVA SCOTIA? And that it was the initiative of two high school students? Thanks to two students who weren’t afraid to SPEAK UP when they saw someone being bullied for the mere offense of wearing a pink shirt to school. All it takes to promote change is a spark. Once a spark is lit, it’s pretty hard to put out the flame. So today, I would like to thank DAVID SHEPHERD and TRAVIS PRICE. These two remarkable high school students stood up and said, “We’re not going to take it anymore…” These two students were not afraid to say, “NO. This is NOT happening!”

When David and Travis organized a protest in their own school to encourage fellow students to don pink shirts in solidarity with a grade nine student who was bullied for doing the same, I’m sure they had no idea how far the torch of their spark would reach. They wanted only to change the life of ONE PERSON for the better. To tell that harassed and bullied boy that he wasn’t alone, that it was okay to wear pink.

David and Travis, along with friends, quickly organized their protest. They bought 50 pink tank tops, brought them to school the next day and handed them out to boys as they entered the school. When the bullied boy entered the school and saw the sea of pink standing in solidarity for him (with him)…well, I can’t even begin to imagine how he must have felt. The relief must have been palpable.

That’s all it took to spark a change. Two boys and a couple bags full of shirts.

Today…it’s not only that small Nova Scotia high school putting on pink shirts. This is now a national initiative. It’s not even just for teenagers and schools anymore. It’s for everyone. Anyone who has ever been bullied, marginalized, picked on, made to feel different, odd, invisible. OR anyone who knows how wrong it is to bully. This day is for everyone. It’s the day to stand up against thugs and bullies and meanies…the day to say, “That’s it. No more. We’re NOT going to take it anymore!”

Wear a pink shirt today. Show your support. Be the spark that won’t die out. SPEAK UP AND SPEAK OUT. It’s so easy…

Head over to ERASE BULLYING to learn more about Pink Shirt Day…and how you can get involved. Did you know there’s an online portal available for reporting bullying?

Head over to PINKSHIRTDAY.CA

A Youtube Video on how PINK SHIRT DAY BEGAN. Please share the video:

THE STORY OF PINK SHIRT DAY

A little bit of fun…


I tackle the bullying issue in my young adult novel Burn Baby Burn Baby. You can read the synopsis at Amazon by clicking on the image below…

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It’s ALSO…

INCONVENIENCE YOURSELF DAY – to read more about this day, and how you can help spread a little sunshine, head on over to the BOOM 97.3 blog to read more about it. Boom is a local radio station that plays 70s, 80s & 90s. I wrote my first blog for them today.

Radio Interview Part 2 with Charlene Jones AND Burn Baby Bullying…

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Today, I’m sharing PART 2 of my interview from Whistle Radio. CHARLENE JONES interviewed me for their OFF THE TOP segment after the most recent WCDR Roundtable Meeting! Here’s PART 2, in which I talk a lot about Trafalgar24, the upcoming fundraising play creation event for Driftwood Theatre.

Much thanks to Charlene for the interview. She was an absolute pleasure to talk with. I really enjoyed the experience!


Bullies – Still! After All the Campaigns – SPEAK UP AGAINST BULLYING

It’s hard to believe that bullying is still a thing. It seems the more we speak out against it, the more it happens. This doesn’t mean the dialogue against it should end. We must NEVER stop pointing out instances of bullying, rallying against it, educating.

In a recent review of Burn Baby Burn Baby, I was called out for something my narrator character, Francis, said. In his narration, he made a passing comment about him not being one of those narcs who tells on someone who picks on him. I did this to be authentic…not to suggest it is uncool to speak out. We must always speak out. If you know someone who is being bullied, TELL SOMEONE ABOUT IT. If you are being bullied, TELL SOMEONE ABOUT IT. If your friend is bullying, TELL SOMEONE ABOUT IT. Never be silent. Silence, history shows us, can kill.

anti-bullying-sloganFrancis is a victim of bullying in my novel BURN BABY BURN BABY. He lives with a physical deformity, after being severely burned in a childhood attack by his own father. The bully character in my novel gives Francis the nickname BURN BABY. And he taunts and abuses him mercilessly. Francis tried to be strong about it. But in his efforts to be strong, he was actually weak. Because it’s NEVER a good idea to be silent when you are being bullied. In Burn Baby Burn Baby, please understand that I was NEVER condoning silence. If you’re silent, the bully wins. If those who witness bullying are silent, the bully wins. The bully should never win. Silence can escalate into a chaos of circumstances where, in the end, no one wins.

TELL – SPEAK UP – GET HELP

In Canada, reach out to KIDS HELP PHONE ONLINE or CALL 1-800-668-6868

Also, reach out to PREVNET

In U.S.A, reach out to STOP BULLYING

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Canadian Suicide Crisis Centres

BE YOUR OWN HERO. BE A HERO TO SOMEONE WHO NEEDS ONE. SPEAKING UP CAN STOP BULLYING.

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!

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

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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.)

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.

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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!

Trafalgar 24 – Playwriting Most Frenetic (With Driftwood Theatre!)

Driftwood Theatre is…ahem…drifting into Whitby, Ontario once again! And guess what?!

I GET TO PLAY!

The play’s the thing. And with Trafalgar 24, that statement is never more real. Because with Trafalgar 24…6 plays are the thing.

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I look forward to this weekend all year long. And I hope and I pray and I pray and I hope that I will have the opportunity to be a part of this most amazing of events.

The extraordinary Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. Currently an all-girls boarding school...
The extraordinary Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. Currently an all-girls boarding school…

Deets:

24 ARTISTS. 24 HOURS. 6 NEW PLAYS.

From the Driftwood Theatre Website:

Twenty-four artists receive a scant 24-hours to write, rehearse and perform six site-specific plays in Whitby’s beautiful 19th century castle. TRAFALGAR 24 is a theatrical event unlike any other, where the audience is right on top of the action as each of the 10-minute scripts play out around them in locations throughout the castle.

This is THE must see GTA event of the year. Trust me. You do NOT want to miss it.

6th Time’s The Charm (All Six Times Are the Charm!)

There is a theme to this particular Trafalgar 24 and my involvement in it. It takes place MARCH 6th, there are 6 playwrights and this will be my 6th kick at the Trafalgar24 can! 666 –  I can’t even put into words how honoured I am to be chosen as playwright this many times. I live for this event. Let’s see if I can recall all the rooms I have written in thus far…

  • 2009 – The creepy cold dark hallway in the castle basement where the screeching pipes and spiders kept me company. I wrote a comedy about 2 bumbling women lost in the castle and out of their minds with fear and worry. It bordered on slapstick. I had fun. The play was titled PANIC IN THE BASEMENT
  • 2010 – There are two rooms in the front hallway of the main floor with pianos in them. One has two pianos and one has one piano. The lovely and infallible Lucy Brennan was in the room with one piano. She had ONE actor and wrote a stunning soliloquy based on the true history of Trafalgar Castle that the actor pulled off flawlessly. I was in the room down the hall with two pianos. For the life of me, I cannot remember which of these rooms is called the Piano Room, but I think it was mine? I remember there being some confusion at the time too. I wrote a comedy about an overbearing insane maniacal megalomaniac. The play was titled MAID OF HONOUR
  • 2011 – I got a room with an actual stage this time around. What fun I had with this one! It was in the Assembly Hall/Cafeteria…the main room where the wine and cheese and auction and announcements for Trafalgar24 takes place. I wrote a comedy about a woman terrified of public speaking and the man who tries to coach her at becoming a better speaker. The play was titled THE SPEECH
  • 2012 – The Lab! I got people to come up to the lab, to see what was on the slab…as it were. The play was in the hallway leading to the in-house cathedral in the castle. Don’t look at me like that! Every castle needs a cathedral, buddy. The laboratory is a science room for the all-girls school, when it’s in session. Despite the myriad of props in the room, I went with character driven plot. I wrote a comedy about a woman on the precipice of new age wisdom and insanity, and her pessimistic Doubting-Thomas friend. The play was titled ACRONYMS FOR HAPPINESS
  • 2014 – I returned to the castle in March of 2014 to attempt my first dramatic play. And I had the LIBRARY! I always wanted the library. (-: I had Christopher Kelk, too. A legend. An exquisite actor, I feared pulling his name as much as I envied the playwrights who had. I couldn’t imagine being tasked with putting words into Christopher Kelk’s mouth. I felt like I had made it to the show! Not to mention the amazing and equally intimidating Adriano Sobretodo Jr., who was to play alongside Kelk. I knew I had to try my hand at drama. I wrote a play about dementia, and how if effects its sufferers and those who love them. The play was titled THE HISTORY OF US.
The grand entrance hall leading to the staircase to the 2nd story of the castle...
The grand entrance hall leading to the staircase to the 2nd story of the castle…

There you have it. The history of my time at the castle thus far. I have no idea what will happen this year. Zero. Nada. Zip. I go in on a hope and a prayer. Once the 6 playwrights report to Driftwood Theatre’s Artistic Director, D. Jeremy Smith, we will be given the room in which our plays are to be written and performed, as well as head-shots of our assigned actors. That’s it. Then the locking up will ensue. We will be sent to our rooms and we will each have 8 hours to write and polish our respective plays. Anything can happen! In a castle that is as haunted as it is creepy and beautiful…usually anything does happen. But we don’t speak of the things that occur on the Thursday nights in Trafalgar Castle. That’s playwright confidentiality. Just picture us as the elves to the actor/director combos who will enter the castle on the Friday morning as the shoemakers. They will take our words and make them into life.

Standing guard in the main foyer of Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario...
Standing guard in the main foyer of Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario…

That’s where you come in. But you must act fast! This event, naturally, sells out every year. It’s magic to witness. And a shame to miss. So pick up your tickets today! ONLINE TICKET PURCHASING – GO TO TRAFALGAR SITE LINKED HERE AND CLICK ON THE BUY TICKETS BUTTON.

If you are attending the WCDR (Writers Community of Durham Region) February Roundtable Meeting at the Ajax Convention Centre, please know that my fellow Trafalgar 24 playwright RUTH E. WALKER will be there and have tickets available for purchase.

Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival is a fundraising event for Driftwood Theatre. Driftwood brings theatre to parks all summer long with their BARD’S BUS tour…an Ontario staple. From Driftwood’s site:

As Driftwood Theatre’s signature gala event of the season, TRAFALGAR 24 raises over $20,000 annually in support of bringing the magic of accessible, live theatre home to audiences across Ontario.

March 6, 2015 | Trafalgar Castle | 401 Richmond Street, Whitby, Ontario.