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

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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.

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!

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.

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!

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

Symbols, Symbolisms, Signs, Statuary and Sights Along the Camino

Tomorrow marks the 2 month mark from the moment we first touched down on the Camino this year. We began our mini-pilgrimage in Astorga on September 13th (My 53rd birthday). It’s hard to believe so much time has gone by since then.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my young adult novel set on the Camino was picked up by Interlude Press’s Duet Books. As the release date is scheduled for sometime in October, 2020, the preparations are beginning to ramp up. This week, I’ll be talking with the cover designer and boy is my head spinning. The publisher usually has the last word on cover, but often the author is consulted and a discussion goes on behind the scenes prior to mock-ups. The problem I’m having this week is not what do I want on the cover of THE CAMINO CLUB. My problem is what do I not want. I want everything CAMINO. It would be impossible for me to distill my wants down to a manageable number.

All I have been thinking about is the symbols of the Camino. I thought I would gather them here and see what I come up with.

Everyone on the Camino carries a few things in common. One of those things–though they may look different depending on where you come from or where you picked yours up–is a CREDENCIAL. This is the little passport book we all carry to collect stamps from various places along the Camino (Hotels, Albergues, Hostels, Restaurants, Cafes, etc). There is one stipulation with the credential—a pilgrim must collect at least two a day from the 100km mark to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. It’s up to the pilgrim to decide how few or how many they collect for the rest of the pilgrimage. Though not your typical ‘symbol’ per se, the credential is definitely a symbol to the pilgrim. Watching the stamps collect are such a part of the daily experience. It’s always thrill to add another stamp, turn another page…

THE CREDENCIAL

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As for the symbols one sees while walking? They are many…

THE YELLOW ARROW

The yellow arrow is EVERYWHERE. It’s how a pilgrim finds their way. They can be painted on the road, on houses, on trees, on fences, on everything.

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Follow not the white rabbit, for he will take you in the wrong direction. Look only for the yellow arrows. They’re not the most iconic symbols of the Camino de Santiago, but arguably the most important. They’ll take you there…

Sometimes the arrows aren’t yellow, but you know they still represent the way…

Even the yellow ones come in a variety of different ways…

THE ROUTE MARKER

Aw, the glorious route marker! How the heart sings when one worries that they have strayed and they finally come upon this symbol that tells them all is well, they’re on their way!

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They assure the pilgrim they are not lost, just as they let them know how far they have left to go before they reach the cathedral. This iconic symbol is everything to the pilgrim.

Quite often, there will be offerings left on these route markers…from stones to seashells to shoes…

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SIGNAGE

The Camino signage varies depending on where you are. If the arrows and the route markers are not enough to comfort the pilgrim, they’ll be reassured by the postage signage along the way…

ARTWORK AND STATUARY ABOUND

There is ALWAYS something to see on the Camino…whether it is something left behind by fellow pilgrims or something commissioned for the pilgrimage route. There’s as many statues as there is graffiti, as many messages as there is art installations. Statues and crosses and St. James representations…

REMEMBRANCES

One thing you don’t really think about until you see your first one? Remembrances. A lot of pilgrims don’t make it. There are markers where people have passed while attempting their pilgrimage. And remembrances for loved ones back home, as well.

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THE CATHEDRAL AND THE COMPOSTELA

It’s all for one thing…to reach the cathedral at the end of the yellow brick road. Whether you are religious or not, by the time you reach the goal you had set your sights on so many days before, it’s a huge thrill to walk into the plaza at the end of the Camino and see the monolithic cathedral standing before you…

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And also a thrill to pick up that certificate once you arrive…the compostela that serves as proof of the journey…

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SOooooooo…yep! I’m having an extremely difficult time imagining what will make it to the cover of my book. The iconic seashell maybe? A yellow arrow? St. James? A route marker? You see my problem? Too many things! It remains to be seen…

 

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! 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!