Today, I am almost to the end of a very complex (for me, the creator) story. It’s a story I had contracted just a couple of weeks ago…to my favourite LGBTQ publisher, no less.
The thing that makes it complex is the thing that takes it out of my usual lane. Truth/Confession: I am NOT a worldbuilder. I do my best to navigate my stories through the contemporary non-shifting non-magical world of now. Sometimes, to be honest, even that’s a struggle.
Contrary to popular belief, writing doesn’t always come easy. Throw into the mix the fact that I like to shift lanes and expand my comfort zone and I often find myself in over my head.
This manuscript is one of those times, indeed.
But I have persevered. My first chapter told me this was going to be a story outside my comfort zone. I still buckled in, knowing it would be a hard–but not unrewarding–ride.
I’m closing in on an ending now…after trudging my way through a mile of worldbuilding complications and learning moments. The fact that my publisher offered a contract on the novel after reading the first third was the fuel I needed to edit the second third and complete the last third. Also, deadlines help!
Fast forward to earlier this week and I find myself with an appointment with a WORLDBUILDING CONSULTANT. Or maybe a WORLDBUILDING AUDITOR. Yeah…auditor. That’s it. My son-in-law has offered to do a reading of the manuscript for me…with particular attention to worldbuilding. I still have time to make corrections/edits/rewrites before my deadline, so I thought it was a timely lifesaving offer. I’m definitely going to take him up on it.
During the course of the conversation, he also laid down some knowledge when he said there’s NO GROWING IN A COMFORT ZONE AND NO COMFORT IN A GROWING ZONE. I mean, yeah…I get the concept, but I don’t think I ever saw it laid out so BOOM…there. If it’s a popular saying, it’s one that has, until now, escaped my radar. I definitely needed to hear it. Man, have I been outside my comfort zone on this one!
So…stay tuned. I might just make my deadline on this horror novel I’ve had contracted with Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press. And I have a worldbuilding doctor on hand to give it a pre-submission check up. Pandemic aside, things are going well.
Happy Writing or Editing or Worldbuilding or Whatever it is you’re doing these days. Push those boundaries. Comfort zones are nice, but sometimes tedious. It’s a false lull. Change lanes and see what happens…
The first, a horror, will be released in the summer of 2022. The second title, a contemporary, will come after it and details will be announced later.
THE BOOK OF DREAMS
WHERE IS ETHAN SINCLAIR?
I’m looking forward to working with the amazing team at Interlude Press again. From Candysse Miller, who looks after every little detail always, to Annie Harper, who is the amazing editor who makes my work shine, to CB Messer, the extraordinary cover and interior designer who makes my books look visually beautiful, I am in the best of hands! I can’t wait to see where these new ventures go!
Stay tuned for all the details! Cover Reveal, Pre-Order, and all the rest! I’ll let you know when things begin to happen!
That is the amount of days between US and our Paris arrival.
If the universe allows it, that is.
Michael and I are booked.
In today’s pandemic times, of course, ANYTHING can happen between now and then. Especially with this new special fuckery known as the Delta variant.
As of this writing, borders are open to double-vaxxed travelers and re-entry is allowed. Is it wise? That is the question I keep asking myself. Over and over and over again.
But by hook or by crook, we are destined for Paris.
And this excursion will include miles and miles and miles of…WALKING. Our hotel is about halfway between the Arc de Triomphe and Sacré-Cœur. This gives us hikers immediate walking access to all of the Paris must-see locations. We have one week to visit everything! Our feet got this! WE got this!
Paris is one of those cities–planned or accidental–that are absolutely PERFECT for walking. There’s so much to see in such a tight little circle of interest. We plan to cover every masked-and-socially-distanced inch of it.
I can’t wait to be back there! Since my first trip in 2014, I just feel like Paris is one of those magical places that resonate with me so completely. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I could live in that city and call it home. I’m sure a lot of its visitors say this very same thing. But that’s because it’s true. It’s just one of those cities.
I intend to take copious notes this time around. Who am I kidding? I ALWAYS intend on taking copious notes…I just never do! This time will be different. I need this information. Both for a novel in progress I’ve been working on…and for another (non-fiction) project I’m tossing about. So this TOTALLY 100% SIGHTSEEING PLEASURE TRIP is going to have a dash of incidental research on the side.
And you can bet your sweet bippy I will be visiting Shakespeare & Company and spending some cash in their store! We all must do our part to keep the Shakey Pear & Co afloat! I want it to be there after the pandemic. You know, you can actually do your part from afar. They did put out a call during the pandemic that they could use support. Here’s a link to their ONLINE STORE. You can even become a member. I will definitely be spending time there, and bringing home a few Shakespearean things with me!
100 Days & Counting. Fingers are crossed for receding numbers in cases and advancing numbers in fully vaccinated people. I can almost smell those cafe au lait and pain au chocolat mornings!
You may have noticed a couple of new covers if you recently visited My Amazon page. Both Pride Must Be a Place & Summer on Fire are now sporting new clothing. (-;
Unfortunately, my publisher, MuseItUp, had to make a tough decision and close their doors. It was a great pleasure working with the folx at MuseItUp! We had a long relationship. They were the publisher of both my debut novel and my sixth novel. I’m grateful for the time we spent together!
I now offer the SAME stories wrapped in newer clothing.
Here are the new covers:
PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE – Ezra Caine is gay. He’s sort of out at school but not at home, where he fears the wrath of his father’s bigotry. When Ezra’s flamboyantly out friend Alex Mills takes one too many beatings from homophobic bully Will Carter, Ezra finally snaps. Fed up with the situation at school, he decides to do something about it. With the help of his BFF, Nettie, and some unlikely allies, Ezra rallies to create their small-town school’s first gay-straight alliance. The Rainbow Alliance Club is formed. But the changes don’t come without hiccups, one of which being a messy scandal involving Alex and a gay hook-up app. As Ezra and his friends attempt to sway their school into an alliance of tolerance and acceptance, Ezra experiences a few surprises of his own on the home-front. He also learns the hard way that friendships out of convenience aren’t always a good idea, just as some enemies might not be as bad as he originally imagined them to be.
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 neighboring 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 eminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.
To purchase copies of either of these novels, you can visit MY AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE RIGHT HERE. Maybe consider grabbing a copy of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE for #PrideReads! Pride month is almost over.
Please note that if you already have copies of either of these books–THE CONTENT IS THE SAME. ONLY THE COVERS HAVE CHANGED.
It’s Pride Month once again. Despite the fact that we are in the middle (nearing the end??) of a pandemic, June is the month set aside for celebrating the liberation of the LGBTQ+ community. The Pride Protest continues…and it is far from over. Though we celebrate how far LGBTQ+ rights have become human rights, we can’t lose sight of the fact that Pride is still more Protest than Celebration.
But…we do celebrate.
One thing to celebrate is how far we have come in a very short time with LGBTQ+ literature. The diversification of this literature is blossoming, driven by the demand and desire for LGBTQ+ peoples to see themselves in the fiction they read.
Here’s some LGBTQ+ literature I have been and will be reading in June…
Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore:
Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother’s spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice.
Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey’s tormentor and others in the school. It’s up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights–and they refuse to be silenced.
Told in alternating chapters with identifying pronouns, debut author Steven Salvatore’s Can’t Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.
This is such a lovely read! I was swoony and teary-eyed half the time I was reading this one. It tackles some tough LGBTQ+ issues around identity and equality in a high school setting. It also balances these issues with a sweet romance. It has genderqueer and bi representation and a high school musical. It’s definitely a summer read one could fall in love with. I can’t say enough about this gorgeous story! I have only heaps of praise.
When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson:
As kids, Mark and his cousin Talia spent many happy summers together at the family cottage in Ontario, but a fight between their parents put an end to the annual event. Living on opposite coasts—Mark in Halifax and Talia in Victoria—they haven’t seen each other in years. When their grandfather dies unexpectedly, Mark and Talia find themselves reunited at the cottage once again, cleaning it out while the family decides what to do with it.
Mark and Talia are both queer, but they soon realize that’s about all they have in common, other than the fact that they’d both prefer to be in Toronto. Talia is desperate to see her high school sweetheart Erin, who’s barely been in touch since leaving to spend the summer working at a coffee shop in the Gay Village. Mark, on the other hand, is just looking for some fun, and Toronto Pride seems like the perfect place to find it.
When a series of complications throws everything up in the air, Mark and Talia—with Mark’s little sister Paige in tow—decide to hit the road for Toronto. With a bit of luck, and some help from a series of unexpected new friends, they might just make it to the big city and find what they’re looking for. That is, if they can figure out how to start seeing things through each other’s eyes.
I still don’t know where exactly this one is going, but I am obsessively devouring it to find out! I love that it is set in Toronto and Muskoka, here in Ontario. As if the dynamic duo of two wonderful Canadian authors, Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson, wasn’t enough to make it a must read for my TBR pile, the COVER! I love to see Canadiana represented in fiction. But to see the CN Tower on the cover of a YA book? I couldn’t even imagine it. The second I saw this cover, I knew I had to have it. I’m really loving this story. I’m halfway through and already a little worried I’m going to miss it when it’s over.
At least that’s what everyone keeps telling Liam Cooper after his older brother Ethan is killed suddenly in a hit-and-run.
Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationships of his two best friends in the process.
Soon, Liam finds themself spending time with Ethan’s best friend, Marcus, who might just be the only person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through-for better and for worse.
The Ghosts We Keep is an achingly honest portrayal of grief. But it is also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should.
I fell in love with Mason Deaver’s debut novel, I Wish You All the Best. Some authors immediately go on my Must Read list for all future books. Deaver is one of those authors for me. I can’t wait to read this much anticipated story!
Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-proud, super-likable guy who friends, faculty, and fellow students alike admire for his cheerful confidence. The only person who isn’t entirely sure about Remy Cameron is Remy himself. Under pressure to write an A+ essay defining who he is and who he wants to be, Remy embarks on an emotional journey toward reconciling the outward labels people attach to him with the real Remy Cameron within.
From the author of the bestselling novel Running With Lions, a story about overcoming the labels that try to define our lives
Speaking of authors who immediately go on my Must Read list for all future books, Julian Winters made an incredible announcement this week during the Edelweiss Book Fest! His 2nd novel, How to Be Remy Cameron has an audio book in production! Interlude Press is going AUDIO! I can’t think of a better way to begin that journey than with a Julian Winters book! Watch their Twitter account for more information, but THIS IS HAPPENING!
There are always new LGBTQ titles dropping! So refreshing to see this market growing so rapidly! Here’s a title that is coming out DURING PRIDE MONTH 2021!
L.I.F.E. by Felyx Lawson:
Rider Williams is your typical high school student. He has classes, hangs with friends, plays video games, writes for the school paper, plays guitar, collects comics, and is gay. Okay, so he’s not your typical high school student.
Rider is trying to finish his senior year of high school while struggling to accept himself and hide his secret. It’s difficult and he might have succeeded if not for two challenges in his way. The first, an assignment about the one thing he doesn’t understand and hasn’t experienced: love. The other, Cameron Walker, a transfer student who looks like a stereotypical jock, but seems to be so much more.
Can Rider survive the weight of his secret?
It’s only the start of the school year but Rider already knows L.I.F.E. isn’t as easy as it seems.
Looking forward to this one! It drops on JUNE 25th, but you can pre-order Felyx Lawson‘s debut novel from Deep Hearts YA any time!
Okay, this is where I share my own Pride Reads Books! What?! You knew it was coming.
I just so happen to have 3 Pride books of my own. Now’s as good a time as any to share them! Pick one of them up for Pride Month Pride Reads!
Billions of Beautiful Hearts (Interlude Press/Duet Books) is a young adult story with two nonbinary teens finding love online during the time of Covid Lockdown. The Camino Club (Interlude Press/Duet Books) is a young adult story with six teens walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain as atonement for their crimes back home in Toronto. It features a gay narrator with lesbian rep. Pride Must Be A Place (Muse It Up) is a young adult story with Ezra Caine and his friends coming together to create their small-town high school’s first Gay Straight Alliance. Ezra discovers along the way that he can find happiness, love, and safety in the places he once feared.
Just a quick heads up on an EBook sale that my publisher is having! It’s on now and lasts the remainder of the US Memorial Day Weekend! It’s on all EBooks in the Interlude Press and Duet Books catalogues! This includes my latest Duet Books YA novel THE CAMINO CLUB.
The sale is 40% off all EBOOKS and the discount will appear automatically in the cart (no code required).
Click the pic:
Don’t miss out on your chance to snag some amazing books!
The 20th Anniversary Muskoka Novel Marathon is this coming JULY!
The 20th Anniversary of the Muskoka Novel Marathon is Open for Registration!Save the Date: July 16 – 19, 2021
Have you ever thought about taking part in a novel writing marathon where you set aside a whole 72 hours to do nothing but write? It IS possible to have all or most of a first draft manuscript completed within that time period. I’ve done it several times. And if I can do it, anyone can.
Usually an in-person event, with meals and coffee and snacks and friendship and outings into the wild and into a lovely northern town, this year’s event is ALL VIRTUAL…thanks to the bitch known as THE NEVERENDING PANDEMIC.
So what this means to writers anywhere in the world, is that you too can attend the 20th anniversary marathon! There will be Zoom meetings throughout for bolstering, socializing, etc, etc, etc. And there is a coveted BEST NOVEL AWARD trophy. All manuscripts handed in at the end of the 72 hours are judged by a panel of industry professionals. They pick a BEST NOVEL out of both a child/youth category AND an adult category. Both of these BESTs move forward to a publisher for consideration and professional feedback.
On June 3rd I will be a panelist on a panel/lecture about putting your best foot forward during the writing period of the marathon…and winning that coveted BEST NOVEL AWARD. Joining me on the panel is Jennifer Turney and Shellie Westlake. Between the 3 of us, we have won 8 of the novel marathons…that’s just shy of HALF! We may have some tricks and insights to share with you in order to help you achieve that coveted win.
See above for the lecture’s description.
HOW TO WIN THE MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON is free to attend and it’s an online event in ZOOM. We’d love to have you aboard! Whether you’re registering for the marathon or not, I’m sure we’ll have some great advice to help you in your novel writing path.
If you want to know more about the Muskoka Novel Marathon, you can CLICK THIS LINK RIGHT HERE! For 20 years writers in the Huntsville, Ontario region (MUSKOKA) have been assembling for a long weekend in JULY to write novels…but the main goal of the marathon–outside of the grossly beneficial writing time experienced by the writers–is a fundraiser. Each writer gets sponsors and we collect money for the literacy programs in the area. This is no small fundraiser…in the previous 19 years we have collected over $200,000.00 for these programs. By literacy, I don’t only mean those who struggle with reading and writing, but also new Canadians, ESL, computer literacy skills for elder students…the programs help SO MANY PEOPLE. We, the writers, are thrilled to be able to help in this small way to bring much needed funds to the YMCA literacy programs that help so many. We are writers helping readers.
While I have you here, I will share my MNM profile page and my own fundraising page, if you’re so inclined to donate to this much needed cause:
I thought I would celebrate this achievement with a little giveaway. This one will be for a PRINT COPY of THE CAMINO CLUB being sent directly from my publisher INTERLUDE PRESS and DUET BOOKS.
All you have to do to enter is RT (Retweet) my PINNED TWEET on TWITTER. RT the tweet before midnight on APRIL 17th (USA and CANADA only for this one!) and you will be entered to win a paperback of THE CAMINO CLUB. (NO NEED TO FOLLOW ME, JUST RT THE TWEET.) Since I’ll be purchasing this one from the publisher and having them mail it directly to the winner, this copy WILL NOT BE SIGNED.
You can click on the image below to go DIRECTLY to my TWITTER PROFILE. The pinned tweet at the very top of my timeline is the one you need to RETWEET. I will be choosing a winner at random and contacting them for their address on the 18th. (I even included my pinned tweet in the picture below, so you know which one to RETWEET. (-: )
Enter by midnight on the 17th!
The GOLD & SILVER winners of the 2021 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Teen Fiction will be announced during online ceremonies between May 11-14, 2021.
It’s time, once again, to register for the annual MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON!
Every July, for 72 hours, a group of 40 or so writers have gotten together in the small but glorious northern Ontario town of Huntsville. Every July, they hole up in a space together and they each attempt to write a novel over the course of a three-day weekend.
THIS YEAR it’s the 20th Anniversary of this event!
Sadly, it’s also the 2nd year that the writers aren’t quite getting together. At least, not in the same way. Last year was our very first ONLINE EDITION. And this year will be our second online marathon.
I’m not going to lie. IT’S NOT THE SAME. Imagine the energy of having 40 writers in one room together for 72 hours. It’s frenetic, it’s chaos, it’s practically euphoric. We help each other with plot bunnies and holes, we urge each other on, we tease and joke and laugh and cry. And we also break bread together…as we are served 3 meals a day. All we have to do is stop writing, leave our writing stations, and go to the mess hall for food. It’s all set out and ready for us hungry writers to dig into.
You just can’t get that online.
BUT…it’s still an amazing journey. Writers meet through Zoom frequently. We have smaller breakout groups. We support each other. We even have silent Zoom meets where all those who attend just quietly type out their words together. Trust me…those are super helpful. I got a lot of words down during the silent Zooms. I didn’t think it would work, but it did.
We make the best with what we have. What we have during this pandemic is online camaraderie.
The good thing about ONLINE MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON is that it’s open to more than the usual 40 writers…and you don’t have to travel to HUNTSVILLE to attend! You can register and participate online in the comfort of your own writing space! AND you can be from anywhere in the world.
So think about spending a productive writing weekend with a group of writers dead-set on writing an entire novel in 72 hours.
The details (from the MNM website):
The 20th Anniversary of the Muskoka Novel Marathon is Open for Registration! Save the Date: July 16 – 19, 2021
Due to the on-going situation with the pandemic, we will be holding our second (and hopefully last) all online Muskoka Novel Marathon. Join us for a ZOOM event. No seat limit! Tell all your friends!
There IS a nominal fee to register. This will cover all the expenses the organization incurs for organizing the event. Registration is $25 and there are also cool MNM T-shirts you can pick up if you wish.
Think about joining us this year. It’s so much fun to get online together and urge each other on! There’s also an evening during the weekend where anyone who wants to can read an excerpt from their MNM work-in-progress in a safe nonjudgmental environment.
You’ll have to make your own coffee…but what this organization puts together for this weekend is worth your attending. It got me through in 2020…and I’m looking forward to attending the 2021 event. It will be an opportunity to see old friends from previous MNM events…and meet new ones in this safe virtual creative space!
I’m guessing a good portion of my blog posts on this site are about the MNM. This will be, I think, my 13th marathon! I’ve written about many of them. Just search Muskoka Novel Marathon on this site to read more about it. And spend some time at their site:
I know there are some creatives out there who are seriously taking advantage of this pandemic downtime. I see it happening. One just has to glance in Taylor Swift’s direction to see an example of this. She’s been on fire creatively…taking advantage, it would seem, of every second of her pandemic downtime.
But not all creatives are created equally. Some take the lemon they are given and make glorious refreshing thirst-quenching lemonade. Others, they look at a lemon and think, ‘Now, what the hell am I going to do with a nasty old lemon!? Those things are disgusting!’
Though I’m not always a negative Nelly, rest assured that I’m side-eyeing my lemon with hatred and disgust. This particular creative is struggling to put a sentence together.
I recall at the beginning of the pandemic that there were memes going around about Shakespeare. They were–I THINK–meant to bolster creatives. I immediately recognized it as a bad take, though. It was an insult to all of us and I’m ashamed that I may have even been one of the ones who shared it in the moment.
I believe Rosanne Cash was one of the first ones who perpetuated this bad take meme. Sittin’ up there on her hill, just spittin’ out takes willy-nilly.
Soon, the Shaky Pear’s face was everywhere…with any number of quotes and explanations as to how wonderfully he dealt with his plague lemons.
If you were furiously creating when this meme first strolled by you, you probably thought, “YES! Damn right!”
But…if you were one of the ones truly struggling to get words on paper, paint on a canvas, vocals on tracks, musical notes recorded, yarn on a needle, or any of the other million ways creatives choose to express their creativity, this take would have come as a hot slap across your face. A face that was already burning from the frustration of not connecting with your particular mode(s) of creativity.
We are now more than a year into this thing. As the world is PAUSED, creatives are either creating, struggling to create, taking a break from creating, or screaming into a deep void that appears to be both endless and unforgiving. It’s a struggle.
Stop comparing yourself to Shakespeare. Stop beating yourself up if you feel your pace isn’t enough. Creativity will happen, come what may. If you have to take a break, do so. There’s no scorecard. We’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. You’re doing your best. You’re getting through.
We (creatives and humans in general) are our own harshest judges. We see what others are accomplishing and we beat ourselves up over the fact that we’re not keeping up. Now is not the time for that. Good for Shakespeare for creating during the plague. That’s awesome. Really. Commendable. But there were some other great creatives in his day, I’m sure, who took a breather during the fear and uncertainty of the times.
Be you. Create when you can, not when you’re feeling pressured to do so. Define your own timeline of creativity and be kind to yourself during the down times. This is a big worldwide event. Yes, a poem will uplift the world. But so will serenity in a time of strife. If you’re not the poet this time around…be the reader. Take comfort in the creations of others.
From one creative to another, sending love and light…