Oscar Wilde – AKA C.3.3.

Imagine being jailed for homosexual offenses. That’s exactly what happened to literary great–and effervescent raconteur–Oscar Wilde.

Now, before I continue, keep in mind that it’s still happening today. Homosexual relationships are criminalized in 72 countries.

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C.3.3. served 2 years hard labour for his ‘crimes’. That incarceration has much to do with Wilde dying at such an early age. CELL BLOCK C, LANDING 3, CELL 3. That was Wilde’s name in Reading Prison. That was Wilde’s pseudonym when he later wrote about experiences he had while incarcerated. The Ballad of Reading Gaol was published under this pseudonym and it wasn’t until the 7th edition was printed that C.3.3.’s identity was revealed. The Ballad was a long poem on his experiences in prison. It was also the last thing he ever wrote.

For years I have said I would get a tattoo of C.3.3. I figure it could be a talking point. “Oh that? That’s just a little tattoo to remind people that homosexuality used to be illegal. Let me tell you a story…” Alas, it’s just too depressing…knowing that it still is illegal. IN 72 COUNTRIES. We have come a long way, but not far enough…

Anyway, today is Oscar Wilde’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Oscar. Pay no attention to the number 72 above. I would not want you to realize how far we haven’t come.

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My Young Adult Novel THE CAMINO CLUB to be Published by Duet Books (an Imprint of Interlude Press)!

I am beyond ECSTATIC to announce the sale of my young adult novel, THE CAMINO CLUB!!! It has found a home with DUET BOOKS, the young adult imprint of INTERLUDE PRESS!

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When I first set out on my own journey on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route back in May of 2014, I did so with a kernel of an idea for THE CAMINO CLUB novel percolating in my writer-brain. I had dreamed of writing a young adult novel that would combine a Breakfast Club scenario with the famous Camino pilgrimage route known as Camino Frances (or The French Way).

As my feet touched down on the pilgrim path, I imagined six juvenile delinquents reluctantly setting out on the very same path. They would be there not because they wanted to be there, but because they were court-mandated to be there. THE WALK youth diversion program would give all six of them the option to walk the pilgrimage route across Spain or serve time in juvenile detention.

I imagined their juvenile delinquent hearts being in a very different place at the onset of their pilgrimage than mine was at the beginning of my own. But I also tried to imagine that they would arrive at the famous cathedral in the city of Santiago de Compostela as changed as I was at the end of my own pilgrimage. I envisioned them softened, transformed, and maybe even less broken than they were when they set out on their forced adventure.

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This is a famous monument found on the Camino de Santiago, and one that my characters visit in my latest novel, THE CAMINO CLUB (This is found at MONTE DO GOZO or HILL OF JOY, which overlooks a valley from which pilgrims on the Camino can get their first glimpse of the spires of the famous cathedral in Santiago de Compostela).

As I completed my own Camino, I knew that the Camino de Santiago would stay in my heart forever. And I also knew that I had to share it…and I longed for that share to be impactful, meaningful. I wanted others to find the unbridled joy I discovered while walking The Way. If I could move just ONE person to discover the Camino and add it to their bucket list, I would feel as though I had won.

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One of the countless vistas pilgrims will come across while making their way across Spain on the Camino de Santiago.

It took me a few years of meditating on the concept, but I finally set out to write the novel that had been living inside my heart ever since I took that first footstep on my own Camino path. I had, after all, walked with all six of my characters alongside me. It was time to sit down and write their stories. I even had an idea for a seventh integral character, an homage to a ‘character’ I met on my pilgrimage across Spain…a magical character who stays with me to this day.

I could not be happier about the home this novel has found. It’s the home I wanted it to have all along. I’ve been amazed by INTERLUDE PRESS and DUET BOOKS ever since I first discovered RUNNING WITH LIONS by Julian Winters. I’ve kept my eye on them, ever hopeful that The Camino Club would somehow one day be a good fit for their boutique publishing house.

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Interlude announced the deal today, so I can now say it’s official! The Camino Club has found its WAY!

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A statue of a pilgrim making his way along the Camino de Santiago, complete with the Galician Cross, pilgrim’s staff and water gourd.

More details to follow, but for now I’m just thrilled to be able to announce the news! Eternal thanks to Annie Harper and the rest of the group at Interlude for taking a chance on this book that is so very near and dear to my heart in ways no other words I’ve ever written have been.

Time to celebrate! I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

Buen Camino, Peregrinos!

2019 Stratford Rotary Short Story Contest Shortlist Announced…

What a great way to get back into the writing mindset!

I made the list! Such a thrill to discover yourself on a shortlist! Rotary Club of Stratford’s annual short story contest winners will be announced at the Stratford Writers Festival on October 19th.

Up for grabs in the contest?

19 and under-Teen

  • First: $300
  • Second: $200
  • Third: $100
  • 3 Honourable Mentions

20 and over-Adult

  • First: $500
  • Second: $250
  • Third: $100
  • 3 Honourable Mentions

For me, just making the shortlist is a great reward and honour. I submitted a short story about a lesbian couple struggling with a recent cancer diagnosis and revisiting one of their favourite places on earth for a respite from their harsh new reality. PARIS AT SUNSET AND INTO THE NIGHT made the first cut, and in my book that’s pretty awesome in and of itself!

YOU CAN VIEW THE FULL SHORTLIST HERE

Good luck to my fellow shortlisted writers! And to all those who entered, KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING!

From One Passion to Another – Back to Writing…

Now that the Camino de Santiago is behind me yet again, I’ll attempt to stop talking about it on here for a while. I can’t make any promises, though (like, I could drop a pic from the Camino without warning at any given moment!).

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Galicia Morning, Unfiltered Light.

I’m moving on to my next passion for a bit. On July 12th I participated in a 3 day novel writing marathon in Huntsville, Ontario. During the 72 hours, I wrote almost 40,000 words. My goal for October is to finish the first draft of this novel. Let’s see if I can keep the momentum going. I’ve been at it for 2 days so far and I’m feeling pretty good about it.

The manuscripts written at the marathon are entered into a juried competition at the end of the weekend. My novel, NO VISIBLE DAMAGE, was awarded Runner Up in the YOUNG ADULT category of the competition. I’m thrilled with that outcome. First draft, written frenetically in 72 hours? I’ll take it!

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A bookmark gifted to writers at the Muskoka Novel Marathon!

So I’m locking myself into writer mode for a bit. This may mean that I come at you with some exuberant writing advice every now and again. When I’m in that zone, it’s all I think about. Adios por ahora, mi Camino! Writing is my October jam!

One last story from my Muskoka Novel Marathon weekend prior to diving back into my manuscript. The bookmarks pictured above were given to ALL marathon participators. The back of each bookmark was blank. My fellow marathoner, Colum (who is literally the sweetest most kindhearted person) took my bookmark down to a local store in town and had the back personalized after I told him about a line that POPPED out of my manuscript. I wrote the line about a laptop that was thrown across a room in the story. During our conversation about the line in question, I told Colum it sounded like a great name for a punk band. Colum said it sounded like a perfect novel title. That’s the exact second my THE EPOQUE OF ETHAN manuscript became NO VISIBLE DAMAGE. Thanks, Colum! Both for giving me the TITLE and for getting the personalization of the bookmark done!

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Happy WRITING!

From Darkness and into the Light – Santiago de Compostela at the End of the Yellow Brick Road…

Day 12 – AKA We’re off to see the Wizard! This was the day we woke up in O Pedrouzo with our eye on Santiago de Compostela!

For the first 3 or more hours of the walk, we were in darkness. And it rained most of the time. It was, for me, an incredibly hard walk filled with anxious moments in black forests hoping we didn’t get too lost on the path.

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Just prior to daybreak, we hit the marker that announces the jurisdiction of Santiago! We were almost to the city of Santiago de Compostela and the darkness was about to brighten!

Soon after daybreak, we arrived at Monte de Gozo! The HILL OF JOY! This is the place where many pilgrims get their first glimpse of the spires in Santiago. It’s the ONE-HOUR mark, too. Soon, we would arrive!

ALL the familiar signs came into view, building on the excitement of our eventual arrival. Like the dancing star on the outskirts!

…and the Santiago de Compostela sign, which is so covered now with mementos you can just make it out…

SO close!!

Feelings of saudade! Longing, desire, sadness, joy, angst…everything wrapped up together. And excitement for Michael, who had not yet experienced his first arrival into the plaza in front of the cathedral!

THE FIRST GLIMPSES OF THE SPIRES…

That walk into the little archway just prior to walking out the other side into Praza de Obradoiro, the plaza in front of the CATHEDRAL. In the archway, the pipes…the pipes they play!

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Then, what the whole thing is for…the arrival at the Cathedral!

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And that, my friends, was OUR Camino de Santiago!

Keep your ears–and your hearts–open for the CALL. The Camino begins with a whisper. When it finds you, the whisper grows until the day you step off that plane and make your way to the path. When your feet touch down on the Camino de Santiago, your life begins…

You
Touch me
I hear the sound
Of mandolins
You
Kiss me
With your kiss
My life begins
You’re spring to me
All things
To me
Don’t you know you’re
Life itself

Three More! From Portomarin to O Pedrouzo!

I last left you in Portomarin and gave you a taste of Arzua after we discovered a great restaurant run by lovely people. But before Arzua, we had one previous stop. Palas de Rei!

As we CLIMBED out of Portomarin, after getting a shuttle car from our hostel back to the point in Portomarin we had walked to the afternoon before, we came to one of my most memorable Camino places. After leaving Portomarin, there’s a steady climb that eventually leads up an endless orange-sand hill. On my first Camino in 2014, I walked with 7 or 8 other pilgrims. We all picked up some picnic food at a supermercado prior to leaving Portomarin. Then we stopped and had a picnic at the top of that large orange hill. It was such a lovely experience…one I still cherish today.

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Connie and I at the picnic at the top of the world just outside Portomarin (May, 2014). Connie passed away not quite a year after our pilgrimage. Such a lovely person. I was so fortunate to walk with her and our wonderful group of pilgrims.

The rest of the journey to Palas de Rei was uneventful. There was an awful lot of hills this day, though. More than I remembered. It was also the first day we had a little rain. Just a little, though…nothing too unbearable.

Day 10 of walking took us from Palas de Rei to Arzua. My previous post here is about the place we found for dinner in Arzua. It was superb.

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We left Palas de Rei in the dark, but soon stopped for breakfast. Those breakfast stops may just be the ones I looked forward to the most. Zumo de naranja, cafe con leche and cruc de chocolate. Fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee with milk and a chocolate croissant! Mmmmmmmm!

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Such a great part of every morning on the Camino! The Breakfast Stop!

As the morning came into its own that day, it glowed beautiful. We soon found ourselves in Nirvana, quietly taking in its soul-healing rays…

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This was the day we broke the 50km mark, the day of Melide, and the day of walking through the vast and fragrant eucalyptus forests. It was a peaceful day filled with grace and awe. And I remember it as being much easier…or maybe we had just found a stride that day. (-:

Arzua at the end of the day was lovely. I was a little bitter, however, about the shower at our hostel. The showers in Spain were incredibly amazing. Until Arzua. The shower had no faucet, just a button you would push and the water would come out for about 30 seconds and shut off. Annoying. Like a pool shower from 1979. I was not impressed…but it was what it was. Every other shower on the Camino was spectacular.

Day 11 found us making our way to O Pedrouzo AND the very last albergue prior to arriving in Santiago!

Again, we left in the dark and again we found a lovely little cafe in which to enjoy our yummy Camino breakfast.

And we soon came across the beer bottle cafe too. I don’t recall it from my 2014 pilgrimage, but I’ve seen it all over Instagram lately…

We broke the 20km mark this day, and stayed at 23 on the 23rd! (-:

And then, just like that, we were only ONE DAY AWAY FROM SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA. The cathedral at the end of the yellow brick road. We would have one more albergue sleep in O Pedrouzo prior to waking up, dusting off and setting out on our final walk…

Food – Ultreia Café in Arzua is a MUST on the Camino de Santiago!

Ultreia was a surprise delight in Arzua on the Camino de Santiago! Don’t miss it!

We walked today from Palas de Rei to Arzua. A long exhausting uphill hike.

After showers, we walked back to the restaurants we passed on the way into town. The one we chose was absolutely incredible!

As with many Pilgrim Meal combos, Ultreia had the 10€ offering where you get to choose a starter, a main, and a dessert… With a drink. I chose cod/pepper croquettes for my starter, meat lasagna for my main and mousse with blueberry coulis for dessert. Ultreia is fine dining. Every dish was impeccable and incredible! It’s obvious they take pride in their work. The whole combo menu looked appetizing. It was so difficult narrowing down our decisions. But I’m guessing every dish is a winner! And they gave us a bottle of wine to share between the two of us.

Michael had a mushroom ravioli dish for his starter and it was the best ravioli I’ve ever tasted. So good.

If you’re on the Camino de Santiago going through ARZUA… make sure to stop for food at ULTREIA CAFÉ! You won’t be sorry.

We did not stay at the albergue, but there is an albergue attached to the Café… It would be worth checking out! If the accomodations are half as amazing as the 10€ meal, they’ll be excellent. ❤

For those looking for more typical Galician dishes, they can also be found on the menu. (-:

Here’s their website:

http://www.albergueultreia.com

Buen Camino, peregrinos!!

The Next Three! Camino de Santiago from Fonfria to beyond! Onward…

Walking Day 6! Leaving Fonfria is such sweet sorrow. I love this stop. The only place I stayed in twice. Once in 2014 and back this year!

Angela, the lovely albergue owner and cook. Friendly and lively! She gives life to the Camino! Stop in Fonfria if you can!

Off we go. From Fonfria we took a bit of a rest day. Only about 10km to Triacastela. And the Pension Garcia just as you walk into town there. The eats were good and the room was comfortable. Because we had arrived early, we had lots of time to casually explore town after showers.

Day 7 Walking was Triacastela to Sarria, which is the big 100km town where lots of people begin their Camino. You need to walk at least 100km in order to get the Compostela certificate in Santiago de Compostela. It was, again, a lovely day. One thing to mention is the SAMOS route to Sarria. It adds kilometres, but is so worth the visit to the monasterio in Samos. I just love the murals there. So beautiful…we started in the dark in order to allow time for the detour…

Day 8 walking was Sarria to Portomarin. I had made an error in booking, and it was only after we had arrived in Portomarin that we discovered our hostel was 2km behind us. Be prepared for anything on the Camino…

 

The Next Three! Onward to Santiago de Compostela!

We last left you in Ponferrada! Here we go!

Walking Day 3 – Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo – It was a hard day but such a beautiful one. Vineyards everywhere (-: Lovely!

Walking Day 4 – Villafranca del Bierzo to Las Herrerias – Obviously another beautiful day. They all are. The last hour of every day is the hardest.

Day 5 Las Herrerias to Fonfria!

Fonfria, Fonfria, Fonfria! I love the albergue there! Second visit! This was the day of climbing mountains! To O Cebreiro and beyond to Fonfria. The hardest day, but the others prepared us well! Plus, WE MADE IT TO GALICIA!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Marker for GALICIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First 3 Days of the Camino de Santiago – We Are in Love with Spain!

Just pictures. We are on the Camino de Santiago, loving every minute! Began in Astorga this time. Mini Camino.

Astorga, before the walk!

Walking Day 1 – Astorga to Foncebadon

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Day 2 – Foncebadon to Ponferrada

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Cruz de Ferro!
Such an epic milestone on the Camino de Santiago! Cruz de Ferro…

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