Best Young Adult Novel Best Young Adult Novel Award Muskoka Novel Marathon Young Adult Fiction

Another Chapter One From Muskoka Novel Marathon…

The Muskoka Novel Marathon people are posting CHAPTER ONE previews for the first 20 years of BEST NOVEL AWARD winners, as well as honorable mentions and runners-up. A few more of mine were shared recently on the MNM blog. Here’s one from one of my published novels. I will share the others (which remain unpublished) in another post. You can pick up HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN at Amazon (link below).

Half Dead & Fully Broken was written during the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon. It won BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL that year. If you click on the book cover, you can go to the MNM site and read CHAPTER ONE!

Here’s the SYNOPSIS: Carter Colby is the most unpopular teen at Jefferson High. This would be easier to deal with if his identical twin brother, Marcus, weren’t the hottest, most popular boy in school. When Marcus is killed in a motorcycle accident, Carter discovers the one thing more painful than trying to compete with Mr. Wonderful: wearing his dead brother’s face. He felt invisible before the accident, but with Marcus dead, everybody turns away from him in mourning. How can he blame them? He can’t bear to look in the mirror. When Carter begins to see Marcus’ ghost, Mr. Wonderful’s quest to save the world and spread happiness may not be over after all, even in death. Marcus knows that Justin Dewar, the boy who drove the truck that crashed into his motorbike, is struggling with the guilt of taking a life. Melanie, Marcus’ mourning best friend, was also hit hard by the tragedy. Marcus wants to make things right before it’s too late. With Marcus’ help, Carter experiences love and friendship for the first time in his life. But is Mr. Wonderful’s helping hand enough for Carter, Melanie, and Justin – three kids fully broken by the tragedy – to save one another?



Camino de Santiago Duet Books GoodReads Interlude Press The Camino Club Young Adult Fiction

Some History of Prisoners on the Camino de Santiago – And Goodreads Giveaway…

When I first set out to write my young adult novel THE CAMINO CLUB, I had a few things in mind. A major one was The Breakfast Club. There were parts of that (badly aged) movie that I admired. As I was a punk rocker in my teen years in the early to mid 80s, I knew about cliques and how hard it was to break free of them (or protect yourself from others). I also knew that, if given the chance, the people steadfast in their rigid clique-y groups would easily break free once they found common ground. I had experienced that phenomenon myself in high school. The other thing I had in mind was the fact that prisoners on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route has been a thing for many many years.

Essentially, what I did was take The Breakfast Club idea and spread it out over a longer time-span while moving it outside. With one big exception. I didn’t just abandon and neglect my teens and allow them to fend for themselves. I put counselors in the thick of things with them. If prisoners have walked the Camino to regain their freedom for possibly hundreds of years, then why couldn’t I create a fictional rehabilitation program for a few delinquent teens?


There is a long history of prison reform programs that see prisoners walk the Camino in Spain. Spain itself has such a program. HERE’S AN ARTICLE ON ONE SUCH PROGRAM OUT OF SEGOVIA, SPAIN. In it, six prisoners complete the final step of their sentence by walking a portion of the Camino.

From the article:

“Walking with them are two prison educators and a volunteer from the Father Garralda Open Horizons Foundation, an NGO that has worked for the past 30 years on social-integration programs for prisoners. Jesús Hernández, the head of the group, is a veteran expert on drug addiction and reintegration programs. He was one of the first members of the prison’s treatment board.”

This particular program is about reintegration. In the past, prisoners were sent on their way to complete the entire pilgrimage route and their stamped passport books would be proof that they walked it. And once the proof was offered, they would be free. The feeling was that walking the way of Saint James changed a person. Life affirming pilgrimages would transform them and change the course of their lives for the better.

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Belgium still offers 2 ‘Golden Tickets’ each year. The pilgrimage route these two prisoners have to walk is slightly different, though. Two teens set off on a 2,496 km hike to Santiago with an assigned youth worker. READ THIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE ON THE BELGIUM CONNECTION…THIS ONE ALSO DOES A GOOD JOB OF DESCRIBING MORE ABOUT THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO ORIGINS.

From the article:

A good walk can work as a medicine. For over a thousand years, pilgrims have been walking the Camino de Santiago, pushing themselves beyond what they thought was possible. In medieval times, many pilgrims would struggle to make it all the way to Santiago de Compostela and its shrine to St James. While most took the route voluntarily, some were obligated by a court to walk the path as a form of penance.

A lot of the pilgrims who make their way to the Camino are NOT prisoners at all, but also feel the need to break free…to change something about their life. They say that the Camino first enters your life as a word, a short explanation, something you hear about here and there, until it becomes a thunderous shout. The Camino calls to you. And it never stops calling until you make room for it. It may well be an extremely healing journey for prisoners making their way to freedom…but it is also an agent of change in anyone’s life. It’s no longer just a Catholic pilgrimage route to the bones of one of the apostles. It’s a path to walk when you have some thinking to do…when you want to break free of one of your own prisons.


I wrote The Camino Club because my own pilgrimage on the path in 2014 showed me the power involved in putting one foot in front of the other and communing with others making those same simple movements. I didn’t make the mold when I created this story…but I borrowed it for a while and made it my own. The Camino Club drops OCTOBER 6th, 2020. If you read it, you’ll learn about my six delinquent teens who were forced to walk the Camino in order to avoid incarceration. They were not the first to do so, and they won’t be the last. The Camino is a growth experience…and people have known this about the path for hundreds of years and they took advantage of its healing and rehabilitating vibes. You don’t have to be a prisoner to walk the Camino and grow from the experience. Then again, we’re all prisoners of something…are we not?


Chapter One Muskoka Novel Marathon Novel Excerpt Novels Sebastian's Poet The Reasons

Read My 1st Chapters at Muskoka Novel Marathon Website!

As part of their First 20 Years Celebrations, the Muskoka Novel Marathon is featuring the 1st chapters of some of their previous BEST NOVEL AWARD winning novels, along with Honorary Mentions and Runners Up. In those 20 years I’ve been extremely fortunate to have won the BEST NOVEL AWARD five times! And I also had a few HMs and RsU.

2 of my CHAPTER ONEs have been featured to date. I’ll share the links here, if you want to drop by the MNM website for a read or two.

Both of these books are on AMAZON only. They were both originally published by MUSA PUBLISHING. When they closed their doors, I made the novels available on Amazon.

sebastianspoetSEBASTIAN’S POET was my very first Muskoka Marathon novel. I wrote it during a 48hr marathon in 2007. At that time, entrants were able to choose between 48hrs and 72hrs. I wasn’t comfortable giving 72 whole hours over to writing at the time. It felt to selfish of me to do so. So I only did the 48hr marathon that first year. In that time, I wrote the entire novel (I later bulked it up a bit, but I wrote it right to the ending at the marathon).





The-ReasonsTHE REASONS was my second year at the Muskoka Novel Marathon! I gave myself a break and wrote for the entire 72hrs for this one. The first year was a dizzying thrill-ride, but this second year really cemented my love for this form of novel writing. All in one sitting. It’s a spectacular to connect to a story in this magical way. No distractions…just done in one!




I’d like to take a moment to say a few words about the marathon. I’ve been doing it on and off now for 12 years. 40 writers meet in one room for 72hrs and write 40 novels. I mean, it doesn’t get better than that, CREATIVELY. It’s a yearly oasis for writers. The event happens every JULY in Huntsville, Ontario. The Marathon organizers feed us, allow us to sleep on the premises (where there are showers), and provide an endless stream of coffee. We become a family for 3 days every year. The family changes year to year, but the sentiments remain the same. It is literally the best thing that has ever happened for my creative life. I write books because of this amazing opportunity. If you’re a writer, you really should check it out. Registration usually costs $100.00 Canadian and it is SO worth it. Where else can you stay for three days, get fed 3 meals a day and sleep and shower and play and create all for $100.00? I’m not certain, but I believe the answer is nowhere. I am so grateful for what this organization and its lovely people have done for my writing life!

The marathon is also a fundraiser for local literacy programs provided by the YMCA. To date, the marathon has raised well over $200,000.00 for literacy. No small change! Every year, the writers are encouraged to collect sponsorship donations (donors get tax receipts).

Go directly to the MNM BLOG to read all of their posted CHAPTER ONEs.

Everyone wins with the Muskoka Novel Marathon. They are a blessing in so many ways.

The 20th Anniversary of the Muskoka Novel Marathon is coming soon!
Save the Date: July 16 – 19, 2021
Want to be kept in the loop so you can join us next year? Join their mailing list.


Family Memoriam

Remembering the Belly Button League on the Miramichi

My thoughts today are once again drawn back to the Mighty Miramichi. Not just to the iconic river in New Brunswick, though, with its constant pull and tug of lunar tides, but also to the people of its rusty shores. The Miramichi is a place that has always pulled at my heart with the same ebb and flow force the moon inflicts upon the river that runs through it.

If I pause long enough to remember the way-way-back, I can fondly recall all the Creamer cousins–myself and my three brothers included–being forced into a beleaguered group for misfit swimmers I here affectionately refer to as the Belly Button League.

Shirley, Carmel, Marjorie, Davida, Audrey (Audie), Eleanor, Betty.

The wardens in charge of this explosive league of rambunctious children let loose for their summer holidays were the Creamer Sisters–Betty, Audie, Marjorie, Carmel, Eleanor, Davida, & Shirley. Our mothers and our aunties. We, their twenty-five spawn, were the prisoners wards under their careful watch during shore-time on the Miramichi! Twenty-seven with our two fellow Ontario cousins…their father being the one Creamer uncle among the clan. I don’t recall, though, if Kenny ever took a post on the Miramichi shore for Belly Button League surveillance. The aunties, I’m sure, entrusted Kenny to watch over the Saint Lawrence waters for us all. That was his jurisdiction, his river.

The aunties had one explicit rule that they often repeated in case we were ever to forget it— on our way down the hill from our grandparents’ house, once we arrived on the shore, and again every three minutes or so as we made our way into the river and began to splash about. “NO GOING IN PAST YOUR BELLY BUTTON.

The Belly Button Rule was a particularly nefarious rule because, quite naturally, all of our belly buttons were located at different heights because of our various ages and body heights. The aunts were as brilliant as they were evil in coming up with this device that kept us together in rabid little packs of swimmers. The taller you were, the farther out you were allowed to go. In retrospect, though, we were all harnessed in to quite shallow waters. I so envied my older–and therefore taller–cousins. Those few inches farther into the river that they were allotted seemed an insurmountable chasm to span. I so longed to be taller, and therefore deeper.

We were allowed to swim to our hearts’ content in the shallow waters that our individual belly button heights would allow us to enter into. We could do the breaststroke, the backstroke, swim underwater, even, or whatever else struck our fancies. I can almost hear an auntie screeching something like, “You can whistle Dixie if you want to, as long as you don’t go in past your belly button!” from the shore. Rules were rules and the aunties were not to be messed with. They had eagle eyes and ruled with iron fists.

These loving ladies who would give us anything our hearts desired once we were back up the hill, would turn their laser gazes upon defectors and burn them dead with nothing but a deft look. Sometimes, of course, these looks would be accompanied by a growl or two for good measure. They were tough wardens, and they were not going to lose any of their charges under their careful watch.

If the other kids have the same memories as me… they will have heard stories of drownings and how they happen every year out on the river that was not to be trusted, the river that had a mind of its own. They would have heard that there were deep spots that went down forever, from which no man (woman or child) has ever returned. They might even recall that these so-called pits into the darkest recesses of hell were only slightly beyond the reaches of the tallest of all of our belly buttons.

Danger lurked just beyond the reaches of our wardens’ strict boundaries.

I’m happy to report that all of us cousins lived to tell about our time on the Miramichi’s shore. As much as the aunties would have us believe that the mighty river was eager to swallow each and every one of us whole for daring to step one tiny step beyond the height of our own belly buttons, we all survived the Belly Button League.

Perhaps we have the aunties to thank for this miracle. We all adore them still. As far as I know, none of my brothers or cousins harbor a secret grudge against an auntie or a mother because their dreams of swimming the river from shore to shining shore were dashed. As much as we kicked and screamed when we were forced to stay in shallow waters, we loved coming back to shore, drying off with sandy towels and spending those magical summer hours together.

Today we lost another of our wardens, and as much as I feel anguish for my two cousins who called her Mother, it does not mitigate my own despair. Whenever we were together–whether en masse or in small splinter groups–we were all children and they were all Mother. Seven aunties, and twenty-five children. I’m certain all of us are feeling an excruciating loss today.

Aunt Audie, wherever you are, know that you are deeply missed today. Your hugs were as incredible and loving as your belly button surveillance glares were terrifying. I’m so sorry I was always trying to push that envelope and swim out into deeper waters. Thank you for being one of the special people in my life. Your light was real and it shone brightly. I will always remember getting out of that hot station wagon at Nana and Poppy’s dooryard–after our long road-trips from Ontario–and staying just long enough for hellos and hugs before running UP or DOWN the road (I won’t even guess which one it was, because I said it the wrong way every time) to see our Aunt Audie and Uncle Pat. I will miss you forever.

My heart goes out to Uncle Pat, and the twins…John & Joe.

Rest in Peace, sweet auntie.

Aunt Audie’s Obituary

Melanie Hooyenga Teen Fiction Young Adult Young Adult Fiction

Chasing the Sun with Melanie Hooyenga!


I’m thrilled to have a visitor to the blog today! Melanie Hooyenga is here to discuss her most recent series of books, including today’s release— CHASING THE SUN!

Author Melanie Hooyenga

First! Let’s get acquainted with her previous body of work.

Hooyenga is fresh from her THE RULES SERIES of books that took her readers to the snowy ski slopes with THE SLOPE RULES, to the biking trails with THE TRAIL RULES, and, back to the snow for some snowboarding with THE EDGE RULES!

Melanie Hooyenga’s book series previous to THE RULES SERIES was THE FLICKER EFFECT SERIES. This series featured FLICKER, FRACTURE, and, FADED.

It looks like Hooyenga will be leading us now to the Campfire!


Melanie Hooyenga begins her THE CAMPFIRE SERIES with BOOK 1, CHASING THE SUN! Chasing the Sun drops on Tuesday August 11th, 2020 (THAT’S TODAY)! I hope you’re ready for this one!


I’m thrilled to have Melanie on the site today to tell us a bit more about this book that arrives today (AUGUST 11, 2020)!

KC: I’m so excited for the release of your next book, CHASING THE SUN! Sounds like a great concept, with the eclipse and the camping trip and the suggestion of a meet-cute romance! Can you give us a rundown on what to expect with this book? What’s the story?

MH: Chasing the Sun is a lighthearted romance with space puns, Portland shenanigans, and enough feels to totally eclipse your heart. But as my readers have come to expect, I slipped heavier issues in between the moments of butterflies and furtive glances.

The short description is “The new boy. The quiet girl. Will they find love during the solar eclipse?” and it breaks my heart a little how much of the story is hidden in there. WHY Neb is the new boy and WHY Sage is the quiet girl is really the heart of the story.

Sage and Neb first get to know each other via text, so when they finally meet in person it looks like insta-love, but they’ve known each other longer. And I love writing kissing scenes, so I promise there is lots of kissing.

Here’s the blurb:

Neb Connelly has looked forward to the solar eclipse for as long as he can remember. When his only friend in his new town invites him on a school camping trip to watch it, he’s there. And only 67% of his wanting to go is because of the quiet girl on the group text his friend started. She gets his jokes, doesn’t mind when he geeks out about the eclipse, and for the first time in months, he’s ready to chase more than the sun.

Recently single Sage Winters fears she’s too damaged for love, but her self-help-loving best friend drags her on a “path of self-healing” — which apparently includes going camping with twenty classmates to see the solar eclipse. And Neb, who she’s never met but whose silly space jokes turn her insides to mush, will be there. But when they finally meet in person, another girl stakes her claim on him. Does Sage run the other way to save her heart, or risk it all for a chance at happiness with this space boy?

KC: In the synopsis for Chasing the Sun, there’s a few signposts that catch the eye. ‘…Sage Winters fears she’s too damaged for love…’ and Neb Connelly being the new boy in town. Sounds like they’re both brimming with backstory. Did you want to share a bit about what they’re both going through personally and emotionally and what they both bring to the story? It sounds like there’s a simmering story here that goes way beyond two kids potentially finding love during a solar eclipse?

MH: The story is told from two points of view: Sage, who recently got out of an emotionally abusive relationship, and Neb, who moved in with his mother after his father’s sudden death. Both of their pasts are based on my personal experiences, and I enjoyed weaving together the darkness that comes with heartbreak and uncertainty about the future with a lot of space jokes and teens getting to know each other.

The book opens with Sage telling her best friend Naomi about an email she received from her ex-boyfriend. He broke up with her earlier that summer, and it wasn’t until she was single that she realized how controlling and manipulative he was. In the months leading up to the start of the book, Sage has been working on rebuilding her confidence and self-esteem, but hearing from her ex throws her off.

In the email, he asks several things, like ‘am I selfish?,’ ‘did I not care for you enough?,’ and ‘am I possessive?’ These are verbatim from an email my ex-husband sent me seven years after we were divorced, and within a day of reading that email, the beginning of this story developed in my head. There are scenes where Sage struggles to remember who she used to be before the person she loved twisted her into someone afraid to make a decision for herself—or question what he demanded—and all of those were based on my personal experience. I didn’t label what I went through as emotional abuse until years after my divorce, because when you’re living it, it’s just your life.

I knew I wanted to write about a character going through that self-discovery, and even almost a decade after my divorce, there were definitely times when I was rage typing.

As for Neb, his father died suddenly at the beginning of the summer and he has to move across the state to live with his mom, who divorced his father when he was in middle school. Going into the story, I figured this would be a typical “new kid in school” story, but I should have known better. My dad died six years ago, and while his death wasn’t as sudden as in the book, there were several times when the emotions of losing my father slammed me in the chest. The life lessons that Neb’s father taught him are such a part of who he is that it felt like I was weaving another living, breathing character into the book.

KC: TBH, I’m already in love with the suggestion of geeky space jokes and puns! And I love the idea of the story centering around an upcoming solar eclipse. Did you want to delve into this part of the story for your readers? What drew you to using this concept? And does this possibly point to a secret or not-so-secret fascination that you yourself might have with space and puns?

MH: Chasing the Sun takes place during the 2017 solar eclipse, back when we were allowed to touch each other without worrying about anything other than if your advance will be reciprocated. The energy and excitement that gripped the country leading up to the eclipse sparked an idea for a novel and I thought it would be fun to have a group of kids road trip to a place that was in the “path of totality”—and of course have a romance between two of them.

(Side note: I received the email from my ex five days before the eclipse, so what started as two separate ideas came together very quickly.)

I don’t consider myself to have a fascination with outer space, but my ex watched a LOT of shows about space, including The Universe on the History Channel, which is how I was introduced to Neil Tyson DeGrasse (and why I had to give him a shout-out in the book).

This book required a lot of research, both about the 2017 eclipse and eclipses in general, but my favorite part was the humor. For those who don’t know me, I am a giant dork. The cornier the joke, the better, and including tons of puns (haha) into a book has made me very happy! I did get help from Twitter with some of the jokes, and they’re all mentioned in the book’s acknowledgements.

Even some of the science came from my life. There’s a line in the book when Neb talks about celestial navigation and Sage asks if he can navigate by the stars even in the daylight. My dad became a boat captain later in life and studied celestial navigation, and this is from a conversation we had when he was driving me to Mexico and even though neither of us had ever been there, he always seemed to know exactly where we were.

(Writing this, I’m realizing just how much of my relationship with my ex leaked into this book. He and I lived in Mexico for three years and it formed a lot of who I am now.)

KC: I understand this is the first book in The Campfire Series. Can we get a sneak peek at what to expect from the rest of the series while you’re here?

MH: Of course!! I’m planning two more books in the Campfire Series—Chasing the Moon and Chasing the Stars—and as the series name implies, there will be lots more kissing by a campfire! I’m still working on the outlines for these books, but Chasing the Moon will feature Naomi and her brother Theo on a family hiking/camping trip in the Grand Canyon. It will also be dual-POV, and I’m excited to jump into another romance.

Chasing the Stars will feature another character from the first book as they canoe and camp in a dark sky park—which is a space recognized for “an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment,” according to the International Dark-Sky Association. So lots of stars to kiss beneath!

Thank you so much for having me, and letting me share the story behind the characters in my latest book.

KC: And thank YOU, Melanie! Looking forward to reading Chasing the Sun! A BIG Happy Book Birthday to you! I wish you all the best with the entire series!










To keep up with the author, you can find MELANIE HOOYENGA in the following cyber spaces:

On Twitter as @MelanieHoo

On Facebook as Melanie Hooyenga Author

On the Web as

On Goodreads as Melanie Hooyenga

On Instagram as melaniehoo

Abigail de Niverville Book Birthday Novels

We Go Together – Abigail de Niverville —OUT TODAY!


Happy Book Birthday to fellow Torontonian author Abigail de Niverville! Their latest novel, WE GO TOGETHER (Nine Star Press) releases TODAY!


The beaches of Grand-Barachois had been Kat’s summer home for years. There, she created her own world with her “summer friends,” full of possibilities and free from expectation. But one summer, everything changed, and she ran from the life she’d created.

Now seventeen and on the brink of attending college, Kat is full of regret. She’s broken a friendship beyond repair, and she’s dated possibly the worst person in the world. Six months after their break-up, he still haunts her nightmares. Confused and scared, she returns to Grand-Barachois to sort out her feelings.

When she arrives, everything is different yet familiar. Some of her friends are right where she left them, while some are nowhere to be found. There are so many things they never got to do, so many words left unsaid.

And then there’s Tristan.

He wasn’t supposed to be there. He was just a guy from Kat’s youth orchestra days. When the two meet again, they become fast friends. Tristan has a few ideas to make this summer the best one yet. Together, they build a master list of all the things Kat and her friends wanted to do but never could. It’s finally time to live their wildest childhood dreams.

But the past won’t let Kat go. And while this may be a summer to remember, there’s so much she wants to forget.


You can pick up your copy of WE GO TOGETHER at the following locations:

Directly from NINE STAR PRESS

Amazon Canada Kindle or Paperback

Amazon USA Kindle or Paperback


You can find ABIGAIL DE NIVERVILLE online:


Book Giveaway Camino de Santiago Contemporary YA Duet Books Gay YA Giveaway Interlude Press The Camino Club

The Camino Club Goodreads Giveaway Alert!

For my American readers, my publisher has created a GOODREADS GIVEAWAY for 10 print copies of THE CAMINO CLUB! The giveaway is live now and it runs until AUGUST 24th, 2020.


Here’s the blurb, ICYMI:

After getting in trouble with the law, six wayward teens are given an ultimatum: serve time in juvenile detention for their crimes, or walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain over the summer holidays with a pair of court appointed counselor/guides. When it becomes clear the long walk isn’t really all that much of an option, they set out on a journey that will either make or break who they are and who they are to become.

The epic trek across Spain begins OCTOBER 6th, 2020! Don’t miss out on your opportunity to snag a copy from Goodreads! CLICK ON THE PIC BELOW TO BE TAKEN TO THE GIVEAWAY PAGE AT GOODREADS:

GoodreadsRead what KIRKUS REVIEWS has to say about THE CAMINO CLUB by clicking on the pic below:


Head on over to GOODREADS now to ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

Camino de Santiago Fonfría Play List The Camino Club

Berrogüetto, Fonfría and The Camino Club – Theme Songs and Lies

Last night my MNM friend Jennifer asked if The Camino Club had a theme song like The Breakfast Club had the Simple Minds’ Don’t You Forget About Me…that powerful 80s anthem song that plays at the end of the movie when Judd Nelson comes walking across the football field (?) and raises a fist in victory.

At first, I was, like, hmmmm? Maybe. But because it’s not a yelling screaming anthem song, I sort of backed down a bit before responding. Besides, The Camino Club has an entire playlist on Spotify.

But it actually does have a theme song. In fact, it has two. Berrogüetto is an incredible folk band from the Galicia region of Spain, where most of the novel takes place. I’m obsessed with this band. Their imprint on my whole Camino experience is indelible. I choose two Berrogüetto songs as the theme songs for The Camino Club. It can’t be any other way.

Nadal de Luintra.


Those are the two songs. At gunpoint, I guess I would choose FUSCO as the ultimate The Camino Club theme song. Thanks for forcing my hand, Jennifer. 🙂

While on the subject, I wanted to mention Fonfría. It’s another one of those places I fudged a bit in my novel. The difference with this one, however, is perception rather than convenience. I wrote the novel after my first Camino (May, 2014), but before my second Camino (September, 2019). Even while researching, though, I realized that Fonfría was NOT the highest point in the journey for the kids in the novel. And yet, I kept that detail in the manuscript. You see, on the cold wintery rainy sleety spring day I arrived in Fonfría on my first Camino, I swear to God I climbed an endless despicable mountain to get there. We stayed in Fonfría that night, and it was probably the most magical night of my first Camino. Angela, the albergue owner there, did a Queimada ceremony. The next morning was so cold, it snowed…it actually accumulated on our shoulders and hair as we set out from the albergue and began our day’s walk.

Anyway, in my perception, getting to Fonfría that first Camino was a final hour of torture at the end of a long day. And, as I remember it, we climbed a tree filled mountain in the rain. We went up in a circular motion and every time we turned a corner we prayed it would give us a view to the top…but it never did. I felt like we were on a terrifying amusement park ride where we just keep climbing up that hill until we die of exhaustion.

Second Camino, last September, we of course just strolled into town without any effort whatsoever. I won’t try to figure it out. The Camino is a koan, a riddle, a conundrum. It presents as it is. But in my memory, I had to climb that bloody awful mountain so I made my characters climb it too. I was bitter. (This is the LIES part of the post, in case you missed it. Creative license on the physicality of the Camino again.)

The photos above are all from Fonfría, either from entering the albergue (the cows), or inside the dining hall building, or leaving the albergue in the morning…

While I’m here, I just have to address something that came up way back in the first paragraph of this meandering post. Judd Nelson. Oops. One of my three main characters has the last name NELSON. This is NOT a nod to Judd or The Breakfast Club. NOT AT ALL. For as long as I have been writing novels, I have used the word Nelson in them. It serves as a place name, or a surname, or something, in each of my novels. It’s a place in the world that I adore. Nelson, New Brunswick, Canada…the home town of my grandmother. So I always use it, as a nod to her and that place. It’s another one of those weird coincidences that floats around this novel and The Breakfast Club that was unintentional but serendipitous.

Another such coincidence is that the hugely popular Camino de Santiago movie THE WAY (Starring Martin Sheen) was directed by Emilio Estevez. He also acted in and wrote the screenplay for the movie. AND…he was also the jock in The Breakfast Club.

Anyway, theme song? Check. More geographical lies found within The Camino Club? Check. My work here is done for today. Do yourself a favour and listen to the lovely songs I’ve linked above. If you give them a listen, I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

THE CAMINO CLUB releases on OCTOBER 6th, 2020…but you can pre-order your copy now wherever books are sold! Here’s a few links.










PRE-ORDER DIRECT FROM INTERLUDE PRESS (In this link, find out how you can pre-order the paperback and get the ebook package for free: THE CAMINO CLUB

Book Recs Book Review Book Reviews Lol Tolhurst Memoir The Cure

Another Book Shout-Out: Cured – The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys

I’ve been reading a lot lately. As a slow reader, my TBR list is just an impossible mountain I’ll never ever be able to scale. Adding three books for every one I read has never helped my cause one bit. And every once in a while a book not only sneaks into the pile by serendipitous accident, but gets moved directly to the front of the line once it appears.

Recently, while doing a bit of research for a CURE heavy novel I was contemplating writing (a multi-generational love story that switches from past to present with a soft Cure background soundtrack throughout), I discovered that I had missed the fact that Lol Tolhurst (founding Cure member) wrote a memoir that included the time spent with the band.

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I was SO glad to come across it–it was like finding the perfect gift for myself. It turns out it is one of my favourite memoirs I’ve ever read. It’s sharply honest, poignant and self-effacing. It takes the reader on a journey from the excitement of starting the band up in the late 70s to the painful separation Tolhurst experienced when eventually leaving the band. It’s a brutally honest memoir where the autobiographer is unafraid of skewering himself and taking blame and responsibility for his actions during an exciting, yet tumultuous and overwhelming time in his life.

If you’re a Cure fan in passing, or a lifelong one like myself…you owe it to yourself to pick up this memoir. Tolhurst tells a raw and honest story that is at times painful to read and at other times remarkably joyful…much like the music of The Cure itself, which he helped to give birth to.

To be honest, this memoir has an underlying song coursing throughout it like a freight train…a song that makes the book’s subtitle so fitting: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys. This book is as much of a love song to boyhood friendship that endures as it is a tale of self-redemption and self-perseverance.

In the following touching passage, Tolhurst begins by saying The Cure began in 1972 when the boys first jammed together. But he then goes on to tell the reader how it really began on a rainy day way back in 1964:

“…But in my mind The Cure began much earlier than that, on a gloomy rainy day in 1964 with the mists swirling all around. It began the moment the school bus pulled up to the stop at the top of Hevers Avenue and the doors swung open with a hiss. Neither Robert nor I wanted to get on that bus. We didn’t want to leave our mums and go to a strange school in another town where we wouldn’t know a soul. I probably would have started crying if Robert hadn’t been there. I can hear my mother’s voice even now, gently urging me along. “Hold Robert’s hand now and look after each other.”

Robert took me by the hand and led me onto the bus. It was the first of many journeys together. If only in my imagination , we are still those boys.”

I think that passage is a wonderful and fitting example of the lyrical writing that fills this touching memoir. Through all the ups–and the many downs– that Tolhurst experienced through the decades that took him from that 1964 hand-holding moment to the present, the reader is gifted with a hard-hitting often lush and lovely retelling of life with and without one of the most beloved groups of our time.

I have loved The Cure since the moment I first heard their music sometime around 1979-1980. I no longer know when they came into my life, but I know it was close to their beginning. They entered when I needed them the most, and they have been a constant companion throughout. Their music has never ceased to lift me when I was down and comfort me when I didn’t want or need to be lifted. They have brought me endless joy. It’s not often one feels as though music itself has played a part in saving their life…but I feel this way about The Cure‘s music.

It was a magical experience to get this personal and poignant glimpse into the life behind the music. Tolhurst has written a beautiful memoir that is as much an homage to his good friend Robert and the incredible thing they created together, as it is an homage to his own strength, perseverance and redemption arc. He has poured himself into this retelling of an enchanted if at times rocky life.

This book is a must read.

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Visit the artist’s site for updates. You can also pick up a signed copy of the memoir in the store there.

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The Camino Club – Interviews, Excerpts, Giveaways & Outtakes…

Are you a book reviewer, blogger, vlogger, or bookstagrammer? Please feel free to hit me up for interviews, excerpts and/or outtake materials from THE CAMINO CLUB for your site. I created an easy form for such requests.

The Camino Club releases October 6th, 2020, from Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press.

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After getting in trouble with the law, six wayward teens are given an ultimatum: serve time in juvenile detention for their crimes, or walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain over the summer holidays with a pair of court-appointed counselor guides. When it becomes clear the long walk isn’t really all that much of an option, they set out on a journey that will either make or break who they are and who they are to become.

I’d be happy to ‘visit’ your blogs with interviews, excerpts, giveaways or outtakes…either related to THE CAMINO CLUB itself, or the Camino de Santiago in general. Reach out…