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Camino de Santiago Duet Books Interlude Press The Camino Club Tiny Book Fest

The Tiny Book Fest by Interlude Press and Duet Books! I’m on the LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Panel!

I’m so excited about this! Interlude Press and Duet Books are having an online BOOK FEST! And I get to participate!

THE TINY BOOK FEST BY INTERLUDE PRESS AND DUET BOOKS is coming! Visit INTERLUDE PRESS BY CLICKING ON THE IMAGE BELOW:

IP/Duet Tiny Book Fest Coming to a Computer Near You April 19 & 26

intduetbookfest

Sunday, April 19th and Sunday, April 26th!

I think you’ll find there’s something for everyone. Here’s the schedule from the Interlude Press website:

 

SCHEDULE

SUNDAY, APRIL 19

10 am PT /1 pm ET

FLUFF YEAH!

The authors of the upcoming SHORT STUFF YA anthology talk about the role of feel-good fiction in difficult times.

Moderator: Alysia Constantine, Short Stuff editor
Panel:
Julia Ember, The Seafarer’s Kiss; The Navigator’s Touch
Kate Fierro, Love Starved
Jude Sierra, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater; Idlewild; What It Takes
Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick, Snowsisters


11:45 am PT / 2:45 pm ET

JULIAN WINTERS IN CONVERSATION WITH DAHLIA ADLER (LGBTQ READS; His Hideous Heart)


12:45 am PT / 3:45 pm ET

BEHIND THE SCENES: Q&A WITH IP/DUET

Want to know what’s next? How to submit a manuscript? How we’re riding out the current storm? We’re here to share and answer your questions about where we’ve been, where we hope to go, and how we’re going to get there.


1:30 pm PT / 4:30 pm ET

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Every once in a while, you’ll read a book where the setting feels almost like another character in the book. Authors with setting-inspired fiction discuss how the location can set the tone and influence storytelling.

Moderator: Sarah Penna, Co-founder of Frolic Media
Panel:
Kevin Craig, The Camino Club (Duet, October 2020)
Laury A. Egan, The Ungodly Hour
Lilah Suzanne, Tack & Jibe; Jilted
Julian Winters, The Summer of Everything (Duet, September 2020)


SUNDAY, APRIL 26

9 am PT / Noon ET

TURN BACK THE CLOCK: WRITING ACCURATE HISTORICAL FICTION

Whether your novel is set in Ancient Rome or the height of the disco era at Studio 54, writing historical fiction requires detailed research to get the setting right.

Moderator: TBA
Panel:  

Alysia Constantine, LuckMonkey (January 2021)
Carrie Pack, Grrrls on the Side
Amy Stilgenbauer, Sideshow
Laura Stone, Bitter Springs


10:30 am PT/ 2:30 pm ET

CLAIRE RUDY FOSTER, Q&A and READING, SHINE OF THE EVER

A literary mixtape of life, love and queer community in Portland, Oregon, Claire Rudy Foster’s Shine of the Ever was singled out by O Magazine as “Best LGBTQ Books That’ll Change the Literary Landscape in 2019.” Join Foster as they read from this acclaimed short story collection.


12:15 PT/ 3:15 pm ET

C.B. LEE IN CONVERSATION WITH BOOKTUBER MALLORY COHEN (“Mallorayofsunshine”)

1:30 pm PT / 4:30 pm ET

THE COVER UP: THE STORYTELLING ART OF COVER ILLUSTRATION

Award-winning IP Art Director C.B. Messer in conversation with author Julian Winters


3pm PT/ 6pm ET

YA IN SPAAAAAAACE!!: THE MANY WORLDS SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY YA

Space operas! Urban fantasies! Reimagined fairy tales! Science fiction and fantasy are a staple of Young Adult fiction, as well as some of the most popular queer YA reads. Our panel talks about the broad range of SFF- YA, and their places in it.

Moderator: Alex Brown, Tor.com
Panel:
Julia Ember, The Seafarer’s Kiss; The Navigator’s Touch
Kate Hazel Hall, From Darkness (November 2020)
C.B. Lee, The Sidekick Squad Series; Seven Tears at High Tide
F.T. Lukens, The Broken Moon Series; The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic; Monster of the Week

 

I will be participating in the LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION panel, where the authors talk about settings and locations and how they influence story. My upcoming book with DUET BOOKS is THE CAMINO CLUB, which is set on the CAMINO DE SANTIAGO pilgrimage route in SPAIN. The Camino is definitely one of the characters in my novel.

Mark your calendars! Two consecutive Sundays in April.

Go to my NOVELS page to learn more about pre-ordering THE CAMINO CLUB. The paperback, by the way, is currently on sale at BARNES AND NOBLE.

Categories
Camino de Santiago On Writing The Camino Club

Writing With a Goal But Not A Plan – The Camino Club

I don’t know if this happens with all writers or not, but I’m not all writers. I firmly believe we each have to find our own way. There is no one path. There are, in fact, as many paths as there are people who write. The trick is to NOT fall into the belief that you must choose a path in order to write. Writing is meandering.

When I set out to write my upcoming release THE CAMINO CLUB, I did so with a goal. I also set out without a single solitary plan to help me achieve that final goal. I find that if I plan things, they basically don’t come to fruition. I get trapped in the details of the plan and my feet remain firmly in place, trapped in the quagmire of my own little labyrinth of ideas.

I need a leap of faith.

To say I didn’t plan the novel is not to say I didn’t put obstacles in my path to help me achieve the final goal. Of course I did. I threw myself into the original kernel of an idea, hoping (knowing) that it would eventually bear fruit.

I boarded a plane and I went to Spain.

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I made things a bit of a fairy tale. I romanticized the idea and kept my eye on the prize. I sang little snippets of Elton John in my head while I watched reruns of Will & Grace on the little in-flight screen on the seat-back in front of me while we cruised over the Atlantic Ocean.

Daniel is traveling tonight on a plane
I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain
Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye
God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes
They say Spain is pretty, though I’ve never been
Well Daniel says it’s the best place that he’s ever seen
Oh and he should know, he’s been there enough
Lord I miss Daniel, oh I miss him so much
It was a long flight. And, hey…I was heading for Spain. I visualized the tail lights getting smaller and smaller in the distance and eventually fading away. But, hey! I was Daniel. I was heading to Spain with one goal. Walk across the country and see what happens, see if inspiration hit.
Although The Breakfast Club is now in a clump of 80s teen movies that are atrociously problematic, it’s also a movie from my teen years. We watched all the Brat Pack movies. We saw ourselves in some of the characters. We felt their angst.
I wanted to honor the good idea of The Breakfast Club, but supplant it into NOW. I wanted the bad kids to get together for more than a Saturday in a school library. I wanted them trapped with each other for a longer period of time, in a setting that was new and scary and, yes, even undesirable to most of them. I wanted them to be forced into depending on one another, actually getting to know one another. I envisioned The Breakfast Club where they don’t become shitty to each other the following Monday when they see each other in the school halls again and ignore each other or continue to bully each other and look down on each other.
I wanted to shake up the boundaries. The lesson of The Breakfast Club, at its heart, was a good one. Here’s Exhibit A:
letter
The lesson is that we are not just one identifier. We can all be all the things. Not only do people sometimes only see us as one element of our own selves…our lowest common denominator, but sometimes that’s even how we see ourselves. But when we break the barriers and work together, we can find that we have more in common than we thought we did. It’s a struggle to pinpoint what qualifier you identify with when you only get to choose one. We are all a myriad of things, and we are always changing.
I wanted to put six teens into an inescapable situation where it was even a little bit possible that they would grow from the experience, walk away with meaningful memories and friendships.
But I didn’t know how to write the story. I only knew what I wanted it to look like when it was finished.
When I started my own Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, the path to the end of the novel sort of opened up to me while my feet moved steadily in the direction of Santiago de Compostela and the church at the end of the long walk across Spain.
Different people came into my life each day. They each had different lessons for me, different insights. I paid attention. Although I had planned on writing things down along the way–maybe even starting the novel–I didn’t. Something else began to happen. I became more and more immersed in a special culture that happens out there on the path to Santiago. I opened up. I blossomed. And all those around me began to open up also. Just as the fields of poppies exploded into an undulating sea of red, our hearts began to open and magic began to happen.
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I met people on the Camino who made their way into my narrative. And I met people who magically had insights for the direction of my novel without having known my intentions to write it. Like the two sisters from the UK who had planned to take their two daughters on the Camino for a summer vacation. But they were walking with three teens, not just two. Obviously, I was a bit puzzled.
The women finally opened up to me about how they didn’t tell the one woman’s son he was going on the pilgrimage until he was at the airport. He had, in fact, envisioned a summer in his dark basement playing video games all day long…thrilled to be free of his mother and sister for a few weeks.
The two women laughed when they told this story, but in a conspiratorial guilty way. They explained how fit-to-be-tied the boy was when he discovered their evil plan. I couldn’t believe anyone would actually do something like that. The boy–who was practically skipping in the dirt up ahead of us as we walked and talked–had vowed to make the trip a living hell of misery for all four of the other pilgrims. And for a day he did just that. He made them regret life itself.
THIS is how I envisioned my juvenile delinquents. They would HATE the idea and they would kick and scream all the way to Spain. The women were telling me a story that was helping to fuel my vision. And what really played into my novel’s idea was what the women told me next…about what happened after that first miserable day of living on the road with a hostile teen-aged boy’s anger.
By day two the biggest fan of the Camino de Santiago in that whole group of five was the boy. He had forgotten about video games and the horrible ruse his mother and aunt had played on him. He had immersed himself fully into walking. He had begun to change and blossom. My idea was at least beginning to resemble actual real-life experience.
Then I met a man from France who turned out to be a surprise element in the story I would later tell. The man could hold court wherever he went. He was sort of like a pied piper on the Camino. When he spoke, other pilgrims gathered round, listened in, became a part of the conversation. At first, I didn’t immediately recognize that I needed someone like him in my story. HOW THE HELL could I justify having an old man in a young adult novel?! It would never work.
Then I thought about the Camino vibe. The whole THE CAMINO PROVIDES chant. You look for something, and the Camino delivers it to you. It happened all along the path. Everyone had a story about how they would think on something and somewhere along their day’s walking they would come up with an answer, a gift, a bit of wisdom. The Camino is a long chain that stretches across an entire country…and it’s a radio frequency. Once you’re on it, you’re tuned in. The camaraderie is strong, palpable. The Camino offered up this incredibly charismatic man named Claude to me. It was a gift. It was as though the Camino itself had whispered in my ear, “Here is one of your characters!”
My first reaction was, “YOU’RE CRAZY!” Until it made sense.
Just because Mr. Vernon was a steaming pile of shit who lost all respect, goodwill and kindness for the teenagers in his life, it didn’t mean all the adults in the world were like him. Some adults can be role models. And some can even learn from the teens in their lives. Claude was my Camino gift…one of many.
I came home from Spain with a full novel, unwritten. It would take me almost two years to even write the first word. But those two years were spent watching the movie of the novel form in my mind’s eye. It played out in a few different ways before I finally committed myself to set it in stone on paper. I hope I did a good job. I went in with the best of intentions and a whole lot of the Camino Spirit that I had come home with at the end of my own pilgrimage.
You can find out what happened to the 6 teens in my story on October 6th!
Diego
Shania
Troy
Manny
Claire
Greg
They all committed crimes. They all were given the choice of incarceration or the Get Out Of Jail Free card of participating in THE WALK program. They all either chose to walk the Camino, or were forced into this option by their parents. For the most part they went to Spain with bees in their bonnets, unhappy about losing a portion of their summer vacation to a stupid court appointment walk across a frigging county. I mean, yeah…Troy was happy about seeing a new country. But the rest were pretty much hostile.
THE CAMINO CLUB is told in three POVs, with alternating chapters. Diego, Shania, and Troy tell the story. But it’s all of their stories. Whether or not they ALL make it to the church in Santiago de Compostela remains to be seen. But they’re all in for the adventure of their lives.
This book came to me in a dream, the loveliest dream I ever had. In it, I walked across an entire country and I met the most beautiful of souls. My hope is that the story I created with the Camino backdrop strikes a chord with readers.
It worked this time around. I had a goal in mind and ZERO plan for how I would make it happen. I took a leap…a really big one. Writers…we need to have a lot of faith, don’t we? Sometimes we even need to take REALLY LONG walks before the story comes to us. I took a walk…and I hope you’ll take one with me…
THE CAMINO CLUB IS ALREADY AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER. The cover reveal is coming very soon! I can’t wait for you all to see it.
Categories
Camino de Santiago On Writing Writers Writing Life Writing Program Writing Retreat

Author Life Month – Dream Retreat – Camino de Santiago

If you’re an author/writer and you’re over on Instagram, you may be familiar with #AuthorLifeMonth This is a one-month prompt based daily photo challenge for writers, created by @missdahlelama

Yesterday’s challenge (Day 17) was DREAM EVENT OR RETREAT. Though I didn’t focus on the one I’ve been imagining for the past 5 years, I was surprised to see that one of the other writers DID.

The idea that has been brewing in my head ever since the spring of 2014 is something I didn’t realize others would be considering. But then, I can also imagine every writer who ever walked the Camino de Santiago imagining taking part in a WALKING WRITING RETREAT on the Camino. It just makes sense. So, I was shocked, but not shocked to see it come up in the DREAM EVENT OR RETREAT day on Instagram.

It’s. The. Perfect. Marriage. I. Swear. To. God.

What I have been envisioning is a pilgrimage slash writing retreat that begins in PONFERRADA. Because writers would SUPER dig waking up on their first morning on the Camino with a view to Castillo de los Templarios (a literal castle of the Templars). I mean, come on!

This castle is the thing that dreams are made of. To start at the castle, with a group of 8 to 10 writers…it would be magical.

So, I would suggest a two week pilgrimage…but over an amount of land that would normally take a few days less. Because every day we would meander, walk a shorter distance than is normally walked by pilgrims. We would stop to write in open fields and on mountaintops, have picnic lunches in pastures, with food bought in little shops from small villages we stopped in along the way. We would eat our meals together, talk shop as much as possible…and enshroud the whole Camino experience into the writing prompts and exercises.

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With Connie. Camino de Santiago, Spain. 2014. A picnic along The Way…

I guess I’m not surprised by the fact that another writer has the same dream as me. I have always seen WALKING and WRITING as perfect compliments to each other. Walking embraces creativity in ways that standing still cannot. We think when we walk, we parse, we ponder, we roam in our own headspace. For writers, that’s such a luxury. I work out so many things in my writing projects while walking. To come up with an idea that incorporates both writing and walking is really a no-brainer. If a writer walks the Camino, they probably come up with this idea as a matter of course.

After coming home from my first Camino, I wrote a novel set on the ancient pilgrimage route. It’s now up for PREORDER on AMAZON. The Camino is fuel for creativity. There’s no denying it. I think other writers would experience the same phenomenon. It fuels your writing life!

WALK & WRITE ALONG THE WAY – A WRITING RETREAT ON THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

-14 days in Spain on the Camino de Santiago

-From Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela

-Days of walking and writing filled with prompts and exercises to enliven the imagination

-beautiful landscapes, incredible meals, the camaraderie of fellow creatives

-walk into Santiago de Compostela with notebooks filled with new words you wrote along the way

-Fiction, non-fiction, memoir—it works for any type of writing you’d like to explore

This idea literally sells itself.

Who’s with me?!

Categories
Camino de Santiago Play List Pride Must Be A Place Sebastian's Poet The Camino Club

A Playlist for The Camino Club

So many authors create playlists for their novels. I never quite got it until now. You see, I usually pick ONE song and play it on a loop while I’m working on a novel. It just plays over and over and over and the vibe I get from that particular song sort of infuses with the words.

For Sebastian’s Poet, the ONE song was ANTHEM by my glorious Leonard Cohen. The story took place in Toronto’s Beaches District in the 1970s and the main character was a folksinger named Teal Landen, who had the nickname of The Poet. The young narrator, Sebastian Nelson, woke up one morning to find Teal sleeping on his couch. In the absence of Sebastian’s parental influences, the two form a relationship that–in the end–helps to save Sebastian. I wrote that novel over a 48hr period during my very first Muskoka Novel Marathon. 48 hours listening to the same song on repeat. It’s pretty powerful. I’ll just say right now that Teal Landen is my interpretation of Leonard Cohen himself.

For Pride Must Be A Place, the ONE song was RISE UP by The Parachute Club. I reached out by email to Lorraine Segato (the lead singer of The Parachute Club) for this one. I originally envisioned using Ms. Segato as a character in the novel, so I wanted to run it past her. Also, I wanted to infuse the story with RISE UP. I was going to write Pride at another Muskoka Novel Marathon over the course of a 72hr weekend (I did!). What I didn’t expect was receiving a phone call from Ms. Segato while I was driving up north to Huntsville, Ontario to participate in that marathon. I quickly pulled off the road and had a conversation with Ms. Segato that lead to me making some really big changes to the Pride idea. For those who read the book, spoiler alert…Ms. Segato does not appear in its pages. She did, however, give me the permissions to use lyrics from the song…and some direction in the story. I’ll be forever thankful. The playlist for that novel? RISE UP. In case you’re wondering…YES!!!! It is totally empowering and uplifting to listen to RISE UP on repeat for 72 hours. I was literally ready to TAKE ON THE UNIVERSE! To this end, the endless supply of coffee and Skittles did not hinder a thing.

Did I do another digression? Maybe. I wanted to mention 2 of my favourite novel writing experiences prior to getting to THE CAMINO CLUB!

During the writing of this novel, I finally discovered the joy of creating an entire playlist!

I wrote The Camino Club over the course of a couple (maybe 3) weeks. It was a completely different experience from my usual tactic of getting the first draft down over the course of a weekend. I had more time to spend with it, so I flexed on the playlist. And I admittedly stole a whole bunch of the songs from the soundtrack for the movie THE WAY (With Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen).

So, without further ado, here is the playlist that I created for the novel of my heart and soul!

THE CAMINO CLUB PLAYLIST

  1. Nadal de Luintra by Berrogüetto
  2. Thank U by Alanis Morissette
  3. Pink Moon by Nick Drake
  4. Fusco by Berrogüetto
  5. Mykonos by Fleet Foxes
  6. Daniel by Tyler Bates
  7. Santiago de Compostela by Tyler Bates
  8. Muxia – A True Pilgrim by Tyler Bates
  9. Lost by Coldplay
  10. Daniel by Elton John
  11. Country Road by James Taylor
  12. My Oh My by David Gray
  13. Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads
  14. This is the Day by The The
  15. Living on the Ceiling by Blancmange
  16. Perfect Way by Scritti Politti
  17. Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes
  18. I Try by Macy Gray
  19. Afternoons and Coffee Spoons by Crash Test Dummies
  20. And if Venice is Sinking by Spirit of the West
  21. Pull up to the Bumper by Grace Jones
  22. Sissy that Walk by Ru Paul
  23. Cover Girl by Ru Paul
  24. Late in the Evening by Paul Simon
  25. Kodachrome by Paul Simon

That’s it. I know…it’s long. But it is what it is. The songs that saw me through the writing of The Camino Club. ❤

HERE’S A SPOTIFY LINK TO THE FULL “THE CAMINO CLUB” PLAYLIST!

Did I mention it’s on PREORDER?!

The hashtag for this novel is pretty simple. If you ever want to tag it, it’s #TheCaminoClub

 

 

Categories
Camino de Santiago Duet Books Gay YA Interlude Press The Camino Club YA Fiction YA Lit

The Camino Club Releases in Exactly 8 Months! (Preorder Now!)

I have never been so excited about sharing my work as I am right now. My upcoming novel came from my heart and it is going to be live in the world in exactly 8 months from today! OCTOBER 6th, 2020! Wow! I still can’t believe it! It’s releasing from DUET BOOKS, the YA imprint of INTERLUDE PRESS and I’m SO thrilled that they’re taking a chance on this baby of mine!

I first walked the Camino in May of 2014 with a group of pilgrims from Canada. We were led by our fearless leader, Sue Kenney. I had just come off of a 3-year healing journey, working through issues I faced as a survivor…and I chose the Camino de Santiago adventure as the end-cap to that time in my life. I was ready to leave the past behind. But I also wanted to make it about my writing life. I went on the walk with the intention of writing during the evenings. I had the kernel of a story and I wanted to test it out. I saw a group of teenagers walking the Camino as penance for their crimes and misdemeanors.

Thing is, the Camino was so much more than I expected. It was overwhelming in the daytime, while we walked, and it was overwhelming in the evenings while we communed with people from all walks of life from all corners of the world. There was no time to write. There was only time to LIVE. To Breathe. To EXHALE. To WITNESS. To LOVE.

The writing could wait. The writing would come later.

And it did. Boy, did it! I wrote THE CAMINO CLUB in a blur…for the most part over the course of a couple of weeks. It had elements I originally envisioned, and it had so many surprise elements I could not have imagined. It was walking the Camino that inspired the TRUTHness of the final novel that emerged from the original kernel. It was the people I met along the path, the endless days of rain and resilience and love. The dancing, the magic, the mayhem. It all contributed to the story I eventually wrote…while back home in Toronto, thousands of miles away from the magical pilgrimage path that begins in France and ends in Spain…either at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, or at the ocean in Finisterre…also known as THE END OF THE WORLD to earlier pilgrims on the ancient path.

Anyway, I’m just excited. This book is COMING! I’ve seen the cover and it eclipsed ALL OF MY WILDEST DREAMS. It is THE cover! It’s so beautiful and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. Stay tuned, because sometime in the coming months there will be a reveal.

For now, I can only ask you (beg you) to be a part of this book’s long and heartfelt journey. Below, I’m linking the PREORDER PAGES ON AMAZON FOR BOTH CANADA AND USA. Please consider preordering THE CAMINO CLUB now…and it will drop into your Kindle on OCTOBER 6th, 2020…which happens to be 8 short months from this very moment!

Here’s the novel’s back cover blurb:

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 CAMINO CLUBAMAZON CANADA PREORDER LINK

THE CAMINO CLUBAMAZON USA PREORDER LINK

 

Add THE CAMINO CLUB to your GOODREADS SHELF!

Categories
Camino Camino de Santiago Duet Books Interlude Press The Camino Club

Ahead of the Cover Reveal, THE CAMINO CLUB is Listed on Amazon!

caminoclub

Ahead of the cover reveal for my upcoming release, THE CAMINO CLUB (Duet Books/Interlude Press, OCT2020), I have discovered the novel is already linked (Kindle Version) on Amazon! It’s all beginning to come together! I’m getting so excited for this story to be out in the big wide open!

Here’s the link for AMAZON USA.

Here’s the link for AMAZON CANADA.

And here’s a couple photos of Michael and I actually ON the Camino this past September, and in front of the Cathedral at the end of the yellow brick road. (Like Dorothy, we discovered the journey was more important than the destination. Unlike Dorothy, we had to do more than click our heels together in order to get back home.) We walked the famous pilgrimage route in Spain from Astorga to Santiago de Compostela. Some 347,000 pilgrims walked the Camino in 2019. We were only 2 of them. We’ll be back there soon!

Stay tuned for the cover reveal of my Camino novel. It’s a GLORIOUS cover and I cannot wait to share it!

 

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

THE CAMINO CLUB – 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.

Also, please consider adding THE CAMINO CLUB on GOODREADS!

Categories
Camino de Santiago Canadian Company of Pilgrims Laurie Dennett The Camino

A Hug for the Camino -Laurie Dennett Appearance at St. Thomas Church in Toronto on December 7, 2019

dennett

After recently reading A HUG FOR THE APOSTLE and attending an informative talk by Laurie Dennett at St. James Cathedral in Toronto, I’m excited for this next appearance by the author who walked the Camino de Santiago in 1986 as a fundraising effort for MS research. In her last talk, Ms. Dennett focused on the late parish priest of O Cebreiro, Don Elías Valiña Sampedro, who made it his life’s mission to reinvigorate the famous pilgrimage route that weaves its way through France and Spain to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela and beyond to Finisterre at the end of the world.

Laurie Dennett will make her way from St. James Church up to St Thomas’s Church for her next speaking engagement. This talk will be more informal, with readings from her book as well as discussion on the Camino itself. A Q and A with audience members will be included, as well as discussion with members of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims regarding the ways the pilgrimage route has changed–and stayed the same–over the years.

If the Camino is sneaking its way into your life, as it is wont to do, you should make your way to St. Thomas Church on December 7th. They say that once you hear about the Camino, it grows in you until you answer its call. You may not know this, but your pilgrimage has already begun. What better way to ignite it and urge it on than through an afternoon of lively Camino conversation with fellow peregrinos (pilgrims)?! The event is put on by the TORONTO CHAPTER OF THE CANADIAN COMPANY OF PILGRIMS. Admission is $15. Tickets are available online HERE through this link or at the door.

Ms. Dennett’s book, A HUG FOR THE APOSTLE, will be available for purchase at the event. She will happily to sign it for either yourself or a lucky reader on your Christmas gift-list. It’s a wonderful read, filled with history, the camaraderie of the pilgrim lifestyle, humour, and the trials and tribulations of the adventures Ms. Dennett faced out on the road during her pilgrimage to Santiago.

Categories
Camino de Santiago Inkslinger Interlude Press Left Bank Writers Retreat Leftbank Writers Retreat Writers Writers Community of Durham Region

Christmas Gift Ideas for Readers and Writers

I think I did this once before, though I don’t recall. I thought I would compile a Christmas Wishlist for readers and writers. The READER part of the list will be based on books I have myself read this past year. Please keep in mind that I read mostly in the area in which I write, young adult fiction. You’ll recognize one of my other passions through the other books I choose to highlight, if you don’t already know it through my previous posts. (-;

CHRISTMAS GIFT LIST FOR READERS AND WRITERS

READERS

1. FULL DISCLOSURE by CAMRYN GARRETT: I absolutely loved this story! It’s funny, heartwarming, and a pure delight. It’s filled with theatre kids and the relationship between Simone and Miles is adorable. The sensitive subject matter is expertly handled. I’d recommend it for those who love YA and those who seldom read it. It was an exceptional story. I cannot wait to see what Miss Garrett comes up with next.

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(From GOODREADS) Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

FULL DISCLOSURE ON AMAZON

2. HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON by JULIAN WINTERS: This book was long awaited, as I devoured RUNNING WITH LIONS the previous year. Remy is a teenager struggling with identity; adopted, black, gay, brother, son. When asked to write an essay to explain who he is, he sort of comes to an existential crisis. Throw in the fact that he’s discovering a new romance while simultaneously being contacted by a previously unknown half-sibling, and you have the makings for a perfect storm of awesome YA-ness. I couldn’t read this book fast enough. Your YA reader will fall in love with Remy and his world. Julian is really the reason I sought out publication through Duet Books/Interlude Press. He’s just a lovely person…and I have fallen in love with the fictional worlds he creates.

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(From GOODREADS) Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-gay, super-likable guy that people admire for his confidence. The only person who may not know Remy that well is Remy himself. So when he is assigned to write an essay describing himself, he goes on a journey to reconcile the labels that people have attached to him, and get to know the real Remy Cameron.

HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON ON AMAZON

3. WALKING TO THE END OF THE WORLD (A THOUSAND MILES ON THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO) by BETH JUSINO: I can’t say enough about this book. I absolutely loved it. It came out in October 2018 and I have already read it three times. If you have a traveler on your gift list, whether or not they have ever heard of the world-famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, they will love this accounting of its wonders. Trust me when I say that this book under any traveling-reader’s tree will make their January. I keep it on my bedside table.

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(From AMAZON) In April 2015, Beth and Eric Jusino, laden with backpacks and nerves, walked out of a cathedral in the historic village of Le Puy, France, down a cobblestone street, and turned west. Seventy-nine days, a thousand miles, two countries, two mountain ranges, and three pairs of shoes later, they reached the Atlantic Ocean.

More than two million pilgrims have walked the Way of Saint James, a long-distance hiking trail familiar to most Americans by its Spanish name, the Camino de Santiago. Each pilgrim has their own reason for undertaking the journey. For the Jusinos, it was about taking a break from the relentless pace of modern life and getting away from all their electronic devices. And how hard could it be, Beth reasoned, to walk twelve to fifteen miles a day, especially with the promise of real beds and local wine every night? Simple.

It turned out to be harder than she thought. Beth is not an athlete, not into extreme adventures, and, she insists, not a risk-taker. She didn’t speak a word of French when she set out, and her Spanish was atrocious. But she can tell a story. In Walking to the End of the World, she shares, with wry humor and infectious enthusiasm, the joys and travails of undertaking such a journey. She evocatively describes the terrain and the route’s history, her fellow pilgrims, and the villages passed, and the unexpected challenges and charms of the experience.

Beth’s story is also about the assurance that an outdoor-based, boundary-stretching adventure is accessible to even the most unlikely of us. In her story, readers will feel that they, too, can get off their comfortable couches and do something unexpected and even spectacular.

Walking to the End of the World is a warm-hearted and engaging story about an average couple going on an adventure together, tracing ancient paths first created in the tenth and eleventh centuries, paths that continue to inspire and reveal surprises to us today in the twenty-first.

WALKING TO THE END OF THE WORLD ON AMAZON

4. A HUG FOR THE APOSTLE (ON FOOT FROM CHARTRES TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA) by LAURIE DENNETT: This is another delightful read set on the same beloved pilgrim path. This one is a sweeping narrative beautifully told, filled with history. If you have a travel-reader on your list who is also a history buff, they will fall endlessly into this story. Laurie Dennett walked the Camino back in 1986 when it was just a whisper. She did so for a cause, as well…MS research fundraising. She tells a riveting story about her walk, interspersed with historic references that leaves the reader simultaneously fulfilled and wanting more. It opens up a desire to dive deep into French history before the journey is even underway. It’s definitely one of those springboard books that will have the reader devouring entire sections of the library upon finishing. I find it a little disappointing that Dennett’s journey isn’t right up there in the Canadian consciousness alongside Terry Fox’s. She raised a massive amount of money for MS and she called in regularly to Wally Crouter’s CFRB radio program with dispatches from the pilgrimage along the way. This is the kind of story that legends are made of. Canadians should know about it. As someone who routinely devours information about the Camino de Santiago, I did not know of Laurie Dennett’s journey until it was brought to my attention recently through the Canadian Company of Pilgrims.

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(From the Publisher) HAVE YOU WALKED THE WAY OF ST JAMES? Have relatives or friends done so? Do you hope to travel it one day? Would you like to experience it, at least vicariously? This is your ticket. In spring 1986, Laurie Dennett walked the longest route of the Way of St James, or Camino de Santiago. She headed south from Chartres Cathedral, through the Loire Valley, historic Tours, Poitiers, Saintes, Bordeaux, and the Landes to the Pyrenees, crossing via Roncesvalles to Spanish Navarra. Then came La Rioja, the meseta of Castilla y León, Celtic Galicia, and finally Santiago de Compostela.
Her lively, 1987 account became noted for its direct style, cultural and historical insights, and depiction of the hospitality, kindnesses, and simple pleasures of life on the Camino. Laurie has remained active with the Way of St James, while pilgrim numbers grew exponentially and new modes of communication transformed travel.

An updated, lightly revised, lavishly illustrated version seems very à propos today. Inspired by the book, publisher John Parry and designer Anne Vellone have savoured, through Laurie’s account, the Camino’s joys, adventures, happenstances, and abundant treasures. Even if you never walk the route (and you’ll be tempted!), these evocative words and images will take you there.

A HUG FOR THE APOSTLE AT WORDSINDEED

5. I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST by MASON DEAVER: Another Young Adult title I want to shout about from the rooftops. It’s just soooo CUTE. Is it okay to sum up a book by saying it’s cute? It’s definitely also complicated, with its main character, Ben, thrown out of their house at the onset of the story for coming out as nonbinary. This OwnVoices story takes on a serious issue, the struggles of bigotry faced by LGBTQIA2 teens, and it does it with grace and love. There’s also an adorable romance This is a must read for teens on your list, but also for those who love a good YA read, no matter their age. Mason Deaver was put on my Immediate purchase list. I’m excited to see what they come up with next!

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(From GOODREADS) When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST ON AMAZON

WRITERS

Writers love to experience. You can always go with pens, paper, notebooks, books on writing, etc…the tools of their trade. OR, you can think outside the box and create your own certificates and coupons for RETREATS, WORKSHOPS, MEMBERSHIP, etc, etc, etc. Give your writer EXPERIENCE. Search for local workshops you can sign them up for, or simply create a gift certificate of intent for a workshop of their choosing. Below is one way to GIVE BIG, as well as a couple of more local thoughtful ideas for the writer(s) on your list:

6. LEFT BANK WRITERS RETREAT – A GIFT FOR THE WRITER ON YOUR LIST: I will never stop extolling the virtues of this yearly retreat for writers in Paris. What better way to honor the writer in your life, by giving them this uniquely immersive experience in the city of lights and love?! I took this retreat in 2014 and it stays with me still. It’s a romp through Hemingway’s Paris while simultaneously taking time to write in places like the Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg. This gift is for the soul and it will keep on giving years after it’s wrapped and under the tree. Click the pic below to go to the LBW website:

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7. MEMBERSHIP IN A LOCAL WRITING ORGANIZATION: I can’t say enough about how enriching my own local writing organization is for me. Membership in such organizations is not often expensive, and to give such a gift is to embrace and support the writer in your life in ways that will see them growing both in their craft and in appreciation of that support. We like to know that the non-writers in our lives are encouraging of our passion. What better way to show it than to give the gift of fellowship with other writers. There are such organizations everywhere. In the Toronto area, might I suggest the WRITING COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION? WCDR (Membership begins at $25 for students and caps at $75)

8. SANCTUARY! WITH SUE AND JAMES AND INKSLINGERS: Two bright lights in the local writing scene are Sue Reynolds and James Dewar. Whether your writer loves poetry or fiction, memoir or sonnets, steering them towards the light of the Inkslingers’ Sanctuary Days will give them an endless and endearing supply of creativity. Explore the website, find something that fits the writer on your list…or create a gift certificate with the promise of Sanctuary in the new year. THE GOOD NEWS IS THEY DO HAVE THEIR OWN GIFT CERTIFICATES AVAILABLE. If you’re local to Toronto and the surrounding area, this dynamic duo is located close-by to Port Perry and they’re expertise and enthusiasm–their sheer love of craft and community–will ignite the writer on your list. Give them a look. Click on the banner below to visit their website:

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I hope these suggestions have helped with your Christmas list. Enjoy shopping!

Categories
Camino Camino de Santiago The Camino Club

The Camino Club Now on Goodreads!

This is the post where I announce that my upcoming YA novel THE CAMINO CLUB is now live on GOODREADS! It feels more real now, I swear.

Please consider adding it to a shelf on Goodreads and telling your friends and fellow readers about it. This book is so near and dear to my heart.

GOODREADS BLURB: 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.

No cover as of yet, so I’ll share a pic or two from my own Camino journey to add some colour to this post…

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This is Diego’s doppelgänger. Diego is a main character. The kids found this doppelgänger on a mural in Samos.

I wrote THE CAMINO CLUB after my first pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in 2014.

The church in the photo above is also found in my novel. This church is in Portomarin. The town moved it up a hill, and away from the valley they were going to flood, ONE BRICK AT A TIME and reassembled it up on the hill. The castle behind the photo of Michael and I on our September 2019 pilgrimage is found in Ponferrada. It is also the starting point in the Camino that the characters begin their own pilgrimage.

YOU CAN NOW PREORDER THE KINDLE ON AMAZON!

AMAZON CANADA PREORDER LINK

AMAZON USA PREORDER LINK

So, again, please consider adding THE CAMINO CLUB to your Goodreads shelf! Here’s the link:

CLICK HERE TO ADD THE CAMINO CLUB ON GOODREADS!

Categories
Camino Camino de Santiago Canadian Company of Pilgrims Laurie Dennett The Camino Club

Laurie Dennett – A Hug for the Apostle – And One for Don Elías Valiña Sampedro too!

(ETA: This post has been edited to include a REGISTRATION LINK for Laurie Dennett’s SECOND TORONTO CAMINO TALK. Please see the bottom of post for the link. The event takes place at St. Thomas Church in Toronto on December 7, 2019.)

This past Saturday we attended an event at St. James Cathedral in Toronto, put on by the TORONTO CHAPTER of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims. Laurie Dennett was invited to speak about her book A HUG FOR THE APOSTLE, but more especially about Don Elías Valiña Sampedro (1929-1989), the parish priest at O Cebreiro in the Galicia region of Spain, who almost single-handedly reinvigorated the Camino de Santiago in his lifetime.

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A Hug for the Apostle – Laurie Dennett

Having myself recently returned from the Camino, and being enamored with O Cebreiro from my own two quick trips through the village nestled in the mountainous region of Galicia, Laurie Dennett’s talk helped to revive my fascination with it. It is in the village of O Cebreiro where the world famous author Paulo Coelho professes to have found the courage to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a writer. In fact, in his will he has given instructions for his ashes to be interred in the village.

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Laurie Dennett giving her talk to the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims.

There is something about reaching the apex that leads to the village of O Cebreiro that makes one become a lifelong devotee to its streets. From the ‘Lady of O Cebreiro’ statue found at the entrance, to the church and the quaint buildings throughout, one immediately gets a feeling. The village stands out on the Camino, calls you back. It is poetic justice that the parish priest of O Cebreiro is the one who revived the Camino Francés. As Laurie Dennett spoke about Don Elías wandering the Camino with a pail of yellow paint and paint brush, I could visualize the happy and hopeful priest making his way through hill and dale, forest and town, painting yellow arrows all along the way…forever hopeful that the spirit of the Camino take hold for current and future generations of pilgrims.

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David Duncan, for the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims, with Laurie Dennett looking on.

Whenever Don Elías was approached along the way, paintbrush in hand, either by bystanders or police, his response to their questioning as to why he was painting yellow arrows everywhere was always the same, “I am planning an invasion.” He didn’t live quite long enough to see his vision come true, but trust me when I say the invasion occurred. 308,064 pilgrims walked the Camino de Santiago in 2018. 301,036 in 2017. The numbers have been increasing yearly. Though this ‘invasion’ Don Elías spoke of was one of love, of longing, of searching, of finding. He knew that at the time. I imagine him winking at whoever he spoke to whenever he spoke of the invasion, but I don’t imagine he could have ever foreseen the sweeping magnitude of it. Pilgrims from all walks of life, from all over the world, follow his arrows every day. His legacy is powerful, and yet many of his followers do not even know the story of the parish priest from one of their favourite Camino stops along the way.

Dennett was most assuredly enamored by the priest, whom she had the good fortune to call friend and cohort. She too spreads word far and wide of the pilgrimage route held so dear to the heart of the now late priest. Perhaps, in her way, she is carrying on with the work he began as its ambassador. Perhaps all who walk the route are, in some way, ambassadors. I know that one of my wishes with my upcoming young adult novel, THE CAMINO CLUB, (October, 2020 from Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press) is that it persuades even one reader to put the Camino de Santiago on their life’s bucket-list.

Below are a few pictures Michael and I took of our extremely brief blip through O Cebreiro this past September, while we were making our way to Santiago de Compostela.

Laurie Dennett will be giving a second talk with the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims on Saturday, December 7th, 2019, this time at St. Thomas Church in downtown Toronto. If you’re in the Toronto area and have even the slightest interest in the Camino de Santiago, I suggest that you make plans to attend the event. Laurie’s first talk was mesmerizing. I thank her for bringing Don Elías Valiña Sampedro to life for me! And I am currently finding her book as mesmerizing as her talk. I look forward to hearing what else she has to say about the beloved Camino.

To learn more about the Canadian Company of Pilgrims, click on the image below:

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To learn more about A HUG FOR THE APOSTLE visit WORDSINDEED. Or, you can attend the second talk and purchase the book there and have it signed by the author.

CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO REGISTRATION FOR—LAURIE DENNETT: REFLECTIONS ON 35 YEARS OF THE CAMINO – SATURDAY DEC 7, 2019, ST. THOMAS CHURCH, TORONTO, ONTARIO