Tones On Tail – The Music of Burn Baby Burn Baby…

I like to namedrop. I do, I do. Coming from a punkrock background, I often slip little mentions of gems from my youth into the pages of my young adult fiction. Burn Baby Burn Baby is no exception.

In Chapter 17, I drop a doozy. The two main characters, Trig and Francis, are at odds. Francis drops by Trig’s place to test the waters. Trig pretty much ignores him while loud music throbs from behind the safety of his headphoned-cone-of-silence. When Francis hears the music blaring out of them, he gauges that Trig’s anger must be pretty intense.

‘He’s got those massive headphones of his on and I can hear the music blaring from them. Trig’s aggressive anger management therapy in action. He’s listening to Tool. Not the best sign, but it could be worse.’

After a few minutes of waiting for Trig to show signs of softening, Francis resigns himself to the fact that he may have to be patient.

‘Nothing. Page. Page. Page. His feet are kicking wildly now. The song pounding the crap out of his ears now is a Megadeth ditty. I know the scary clowns are about to enter. This is a sign. He’s actually good at wordless communication.’

But as the music softens, Francis hears TONES ON TAIL rise up out of Trig’s headphones. He knows Trig is coming ’round!

‘I grab a pencil from the top drawer of his desk and start doodling on his desk blotter. After a smoking cat, a gnarled caterpillar on a mushroom, and a pretty pin-up girl who vaguely resembles Rachel, I assess the situation. Tones on Tail are a little less violent. Kind of dance, even, so I think he’s opening up.

“I can’t believe this crap was made before we were even born,” he says. “Can you dig that? Like decades before we were born.”

He’s not looking at me yet, but at least he’s speaking. The fact he’s shouting is kind of funny, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. What an idiot.

No point talking back. He wouldn’t be able to hear me with those things on.

“I mean, just listen to this, Francis,” he yells before he takes the headphones off, turns to face me and tosses them in my direction. It’s almost like I can see the thin trail of music floating out behind them, it’s so loud. “Listen to this and tell me it doesn’t sound like it could be on the radio today.”

I plug in and I can immediately feel the music in my belly. Big bass. Totally Bauhaus stuff. I don’t care who they call themselves, the roots are right there in Technicolor. That’s Bauhaus telling me to GO. He’s right, though. It’s awesome. Still.

“Shit, man,” I say. “That’s still great stuff. The one good thing your dad passed down.” I pop the earphones off and toss them back.’

Why do I do this? Because even though I place all my fiction in a present day contemporary setting, I am firmly ensconced in the 80s. The formative years of my musical listening experiences were the 70s and 80s. I like to drop breadcrumbs of the past into the present. Perhaps a reader will search out the crumb and become an appreciator of musical geniuses past. (-:

In this instance, however, I’m just gonna go ahead and share GO by TONES ON TAIL here. For your musical listening pleasure…

Burn Baby Burn Baby is getting some wonderful reviews. You can see a few of them at GOODREADS.

You can click on the book cover below to go to AMAZON, where Burn Baby Burn Baby is available in both paperback and Kindle formats. You can also pick it up as a Nook or Kobo, if you’re so inclined.

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My 5th novel, HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN hits the street January 19th, 2015. But you can pre-order at AMAZON today! Click on the book cover below to go to Amazon…

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Announcement: Half Dead & Fully Broken Sold!

It is with GREAT PLEASURE that I announce the sale of my young adult novel, HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN!

Here’s the announcement from Publisher’s Marketplace:

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My sincere thanks and gratitude to my wonderful agent, STACEY DONAGHY of DONAGHY LITERARY GROUP!

Half Dead & Fully Broken was written at the July 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon in Huntsville, Ontario. It went on to win the 2010 BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD.

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Once again, I find myself thanking the good (angelic) folks at the Muskoka Novel Marathon. And not only the organizers, who work tirelessly year in and year out to give us writers a magical space in which to create our fictional worlds. No, when I say the folks at the Muskoka Novel Marathon, I mean EVERYONE. My fellow writers, the volunteers who feed and fuel us, the venue people…everyone. Without the Muskoka Novel Marathon, I wouldn’t have so many novels under my belt. Together, they’ve created the perfect environment for me to write in. It takes a village to get me to write a novel. Truly. Whatever the magic elixir is, it works. When I get to the MNM in Huntsville every July, I suddenly have the kind of focus needed to put together a novel. And I am truly grateful to be a part of the magic. So thank you all!

Half Dead is my third Muskoka Novel Marathon novel to be published. (-:

Finally, I’d like to thank Andrew Buckley and Curiosity Quills. I’m thrilled that Half Dead has found a home, and I’m doubly thrilled that it was Andrew who opened the door and let us in. (-:

September – #1 With a Bullet

Another hectic September. Surprise, surprise. I should have seen this coming. Not that I’m complaining!

I think this coming week is the busiest. Tonight is a committee meeting for the Ontario Writers’ Conference. We are heading into full-swing planning and organizing for our May, 2013 conference. This is a labour of love for each and every one of us on the committee. Our vision was to create an atmosphere of learning and a celebration of words. Even at our busiest, this is a wonderful project we deeply love. Look for 2013 updates to start springing up soon on the OWC website, as well as through social media.

Maybe I should have used a more apropos word when I said HECTIC. Is a string of parties, celebrations, etc. really something one could call hectic? September is always busy, but it’s also always the best time of the year. Lots of great things happening.

This coming weekend, we are off to Huntsville for the 2012 Muskoka Novel Marathon Wrap Party! Best Novel Award winners will be announced, as well as all the participant-voted prizes for things such as B.I.C. and Spirit Award. It won’t matter in the least who wins any of these things. Clearly, everybody who took part in the marathon has already won (as evidenced by the photo below!)!

$15,000 raised for literacy! From left to right: Rob Armstrong, CEO, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Fiona Cascagnette, Vice President, Child Development, Family Support and Community Programs, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Nancy West, Team Leader, Huntsville Employment and Literacy Services, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Paula Boon, Muskoka Novel Marathon 2012 Co-Convenor; Karen Wehrstein, Muskoka Novel Marathon 2012 Co-Convenor.

Yes. That is a cheque for $15,000.00. That’s what the marathon raised this year to put into the ring and fight against illiteracy. The MNM is such an amazing event. I can’t say enough about it…but in the end, it’s the money raised for literacy that matters. Everything else is just the icing.

There will also be a workshop on Saturday, after the wrap party…and the MNM contingent will probably walk to the next leg of the three event day—Supper at THE COTTAGE. We’re a pretty big family, the MNM contingent—so I feel for the poor restaurant. They’re in for quite a swarming. (-: I do think it’s great that we will be able to break bread together again, though. A lot happens during the July marathon weekend. In 72 hours, you write a novel AND discover that you are a part of a new family—a family that eats and sleeps and laughs and cries and sings together. We probably do so much more than that also, but—it’s complicated. (-;

To explore the history and the future of the MNM, click on the chair! (-:

There are happenings right up to the end of September…some big and some small. They’re all awesome, though. Hope you’re enjoying YOUR September. Just like every other month on the calendar, blink and it’s gone. Remember to capture the moments. (-:

(If you’re in Oshawa this coming Thursday, drop into Boston Pizza on Taunton just east of Harmony. My younger brother will be jamming there in the evening. (-:)

Half Dead & Fully Broken – A YA Contemporary Novel with Paranormal Undertones

In July 2010 I wrote a YA novel for the 72 hour Muskoka Novel Marathon. That novel was HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN. It’s, for the most part, contemporary. BUT…there is a dead guy in it. (-:

The novel won the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon’s BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD.

The brief description below, I’m posting for a friend. Another writer with a TWIN manuscript in the works. (-;

(This is not the finished copy of the synopsis…just the closest one at hand.)

 

Brief Synopsis – Half Dead and Fully Broken

 

Carter Colby is the most unpopular teen at Trudeau High. This would be easier to deal with if his identical twin brother, Marcus, weren’t the most popular boy in school. Sharing a face with Mr. I-can-do-anything-better-than-you, Mr. Helpful, Mr. Reliable, Mr. Freaking Wonderful—it’s not as easy as it sounds. When Marcus is killed in a motorcycle accident, Carter discovers there are things even harder to deal with than trying to compete with Mr. Wonderful…and that’s sharing a face with him. Nobody wants to see Carter now that he’s walking around with Marcus’s face. He felt invisible before the accident, but with Marcus dead he sees everybody turn away from him in mourning. But how can he blame them, he can’t even bear to look at himself anymore.

But Marcus has a plan. Even dead, he’s still up for saving the world and spreading happiness. Carter begins to see Marcus’s ghost and Marcus has a few magic tricks up his sleeve to share with his brother. But there’s a reason for his presence. Marcus knows that Justin Dewar, the boy who drove the truck that crashed into his motorbike when Marcus ran a red light, is struggling with the guilt of taking a life. Marcus’s plan is to put everything right before it’s too late and all is lost. But he needs Carter to help him…he needs to use Carter’s body to bring his plan into action.

With Marcus’s help, Carter experiences love and friendship for the first time in his life. Marcus, even in death, has the power to do the right thing. He brings Carter together with Melanie, Marcus’s girlfriend, and Justin. The three are broken, but with Marcus’s help they may just be saved. It’s a race to save the distraught Justin, though. With Marcus’s help, Carter and Melanie set out to do just that. And along the journey to saving Justin, they can even inadvertently save themselves.

Best Young Adult Novel Award

Follow up to ‘Busy Times Ahead…’

“The winners of the 2011 Muskoka Novel Marathon will also be announced at the wrap. This year, I feel zero pressure as I flopped out at the marathon. I just did NOT feel in the zone at all while writing this year’s novel. That’s Me in the Corner might just be a shelved work in progress. I keep starting and stopping on the process of completing the first draft, so we’ll see.”

I wrote that passage in my last blog post. So, you could imagine my surprise when they announced ME as the winner of the BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD. I was so ready to just dump that novel. Now, I have the opportunity to have it cross the desk of an acquisitions editor on the staff of a Canadian publisher. I now have until November 1st to complete the first draft of THAT’S ME IN THE CORNER and run through edits. When (if) this is done, I will send it off to the MNM organizers and they will forward the manuscript to Lobster Press. At any rate, I am going to try to tackle this manuscript that I have not yet found a passion for…I will listen to it and try to make it mine. It deserves that, at the very least.

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON WEBSITE

Congratulations to my fellow Best Novel Award winners!

Susan Blakeney won for Best Juvenile Fiction & Pat Flewwelling won for Best Adult Fiction.

I was thrilled to see two people who constantly inspired me throughout the marathon take home trophies on Saturday!

Lori Twining – B.I.C., Rockstar & Remy Winner!

Lori Twining (Click on her picture above to be taken to her blog!) won the coveted BUM IN CHAIR award. She was an inspiration on this front…nose to the grindstone does not begin to describe her dedication! She also won the ROCKSTAR award…for second highest word count. The most important award was also snagged by Lori. The REMY award is for the person who raises the most funds for the Muskoka Literacy Council. That’s what the Muskoka Novel Marathon is all about…raising funds for literacy. We will ALL have to give Lori a run for her money next year on this front!

Susan Blakeney – Spirit Award Winner

Susan Blakeney (Click on her picture above to be taken to her site!) had an incredibly hard task at the marathon. Yes, yes…she did write an entire novel. But that was no big deal, really. Her task was to write that novel while carrying me on her back. I was a whining moaning wreck at this year’s marathon. “I can’t do it!” “I don’t know what I’m doing!” “I don’t wanna do this!” The complaints went on and on…and she talked me down from so many ledges that I still can’t figure out how she had time to write a novel. I gave her my vote for the SPIRIT award. Apparently she was a MARATHON SAINT to more than just little ole me…because she received enough votes to win the trophy! (Maybe the others voted for her because she stopped the whining?!) Boy, does she have spirit! Below is a full list of the peer-nominated award winners (taken from the announcement linked above).

And congratulations to the winners of the peer-nominated awards:
Lori Twining – Bum-In-Chair, Rockstar (for 2nd highest word count) and Remy (most funds raised) Awards
Alison Doucette – Rookie and Techie Awards
Susan Blakeney – Spirit Award
Pat Flewwelling – Most Prolific Writer Award