The Swag Begins – A Camino Club Giveaway!

77 Days and counting. The Camino Club drops in 77 DAYS!

I hope your calendars are marked for OCTOBER 6th, 2020—The day the epic trek begins!

I opened a GIVEAWAY on Twitter yesterday and it’s open to INTERNATIONAL entries. All you have to do to enter is RETWEET MY PINNED TWEET.

To avoid confusion, here’s what my PINNED TWEET looks like. You can click the image below to be taken directly to my profile at @KevinTCraig at Twitter:


Deadline for entries (Retweets) is AUGUST 1st, at which time there will be a draw using all the Retweeters’ names. Winner will be notified and asked for a mailing address, at which time I will send them the notebook. What you write inside is entirely up to you! It’s a blank slate.

No need to FOLLOW, if that’s not your thing. RETWEET is an entry.

Some pre-order purchase links can be found below:







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




THE CAMINO CLUB Release Day – 15 Weeks from Today!

That’s 105 days, for those either quick or slow at math.

This morning I finished what will probably be my very last read-through of The Camino Club. I haven’t re-read any of my other books once I received the physical copy. Then again, there is a first time for everything. I might just want to hold it in my hands and read it again. Never say never.

This book was a tiny idea floating around in my head when my feet first made contact with the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain back in May, 2014. I had this highfalutin idea that I would write it while I walked, cloister myself at the end of every days’ hike and jot down a few chapters. It might sound like a crazy idea, but I was used to writing complete novels in 72 hours at the Muskoka Novel Marathon. I figured I could storm through this one each day after a full day walking.

Boy, I have never been more wrong in all my life. The Camino is something you plug into 24 hours a day. It’s the Camino at night too…when the walking is over. Peregrinos (pilgrims) take in the places they stop in every day. They get to their albergues (hostels) and they freshen up…and then they typically go out and walk around the town/village/city they’re staying in that night. Or they take part in the communal meals and festivities that happen in their albergues. They LIVE. They participate. They become the pilgrims they imagined themselves to be.

You can’t put the Camino on hold to write while you’re on the Camino. It doesn’t work that way for me, at least. I would understand doing so if one were writing a travel journey or non-fiction memoir. They would want to get the details just right. But for me…I was formulating a fiction. I needed only to keep myself open and hope the story would percolate somewhere down below the surface while I was actually experiencing the Camino.

It took a couple of years…but it finally happened. I got that story out (I submitted to Interlude on November 23, 2018). It evolved from what I originally imagined it would look like. That evolution mostly happened because of the experiences I eventually lived out there on the path. My real experiences enriched the imagined experience. I’ll always be grateful for that first Camino…for forming the eventual story that came out.

Now, just 15 short weeks away, it will be something I can hold in my hands…something I can look at and say, “I made this!” I’ve never been so proud of a story. And a story has never been such a heavy weight to carry across an entire country and cultivate in my head while being out there living the life of a pilgrim. It’s like this impossible thing happened. And it happened to me! I’ll never get over it.

I might be talking less about the Camino now. Now that it’s out and the story will be in the world, living and breathing apart from me. I need to move on to other stories. I’ve been simmering a few in the incubator. I love the Camino. I will be back on the path for more wondrous Camino experiences. You can count on that. But I need to get my head wrapped around those other stories. I need to live, participate, experience.

Keep an eye out for the book drop! It’s coming soon. 105 short days from now. Better yet…go out and PREORDER. That would be great! It would help to lift this story off the ground ahead of its release. Wanna find out what six juvenile delinquent strangers get up to when they’re forced to walk across a country? Wanna taste of an amazing adventure–the Camino de Santiago–that’s out there waiting for anyone to try it at any time? Preorder now!

My publisher (Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press) said it best with the headline below when they announced The Camino Club on their website:

The epic trek begins October 6th.

Here’s Interlude Press’s The Camino Club blurb:

After getting in trouble with the law, a group of wayward teens from diverse backgrounds 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. Although unlikely friends, they all try to make the best of their situation. The pilgrims grow closer on their journey, but when and if they reach the Cathedral in Santiago, will they each find what they’re looking for and come out of the walk ready to conquer the shattered worlds they left behind?

The pilgrimage begins October 6th from Duet Books.

Cover art by C.B. Messer.

thumbnail_Camino Club (IPG)







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

I got so geeky with this book, I even created and dropped the playlist I created while writing The Camino Club. You can check it out here:

Listen to THE CAMINO CLUB playlist on SPOTIFY!

That’s it for today. This is just me getting excited and anxious for this book to drop. It’s the first book I’ve written that truly feels like the book of my heart. I hope to connect this hard with the next one. Now that I know how hard a writer can connect with their work, I hope to experience that feeling again. Now go and preorder my baby! It’s waiting to be loved…

When Execution Almost Meets Concept – THE CAMINO CLUB

Creative people always start with an idea/concept. Whether it comes to fruition or not is never known at the onset. It’s always a leap of faith to move forward with it. We hope. We conceptualize. We gather. We amass. We execute. But until we’re finished, we never know if it’s something we will finish.

Or, at least this is my own personal experience. I have many failed manuscripts to offer as exhibits to this theory, too. Believe you, me. We don’t always make it. We don’t always cross the finish line. Concepts are flawless, kind of like Michelangelo’s David. But sometimes the end result is more in line with stick figures. I wonder how happy Michelangelo was with his end result. If he’s anything like other creatives, he was probably pretty hard on himself.

What we see in our heads when we’re starting out is often quite beautiful. What we manage to get down on paper, or carved in stone, or on the canvas, or on the film, or down in notes…is often far removed from the crystallized idea. Sometimes we shoot for David, and the final result is closer to the stick figure.

When we do mark a project complete, we’re almost never close to what we imagined we would have at the end. In the world outside the creative brain there is not as much to work with as we have on the inside. It’s hard to make that transfer from imagined to real. Ideas are like new cars, as soon as they leave the lot they’ve already depreciated. The creative idea hits the air and it’s immediately weakened. The creative person’s job is to get as close to their original idea as possible whenever they set out to recreate it for others.

Easier said than done.

But sometimes the things we create come so close to what we imagined they would be. It’s like we can almost feel the way they should be when we look at them and we allow ourselves to be happy with the way they are. We can almost taste it, we came so close.

All this to say that I had the kernel of an idea six years ago as I walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. The further I walked, the more that kernel began to explode, to expand. Characters came into my thoughts, fought to be heard. I walked across a country, so I gave them space in my head…I allowed them to ruminate. I recognized what was happening as the creative process that ignites whenever I have a new story idea, so I walked. I put one foot in front of the other.

I didn’t take notes. I simply allowed the shadows of characters to take hold of my imagination. I listened. I allowed.

Today, I sent in the first round of edits on the story in question. It will become the novel, THE CAMINO CLUB, in about 132 days. I’m feeling a bit like maybe I captured most of what I set out to do. If the David is the idea I was shooting for, I mean…maybe I delivered something close to David. It’s a little blurry. It’s not perfectly defined. But, I mean…it looks comparable to David. It’s not a stick figure. One would look at it and think, “Oh! Michelangelo’s David!” I’m certain of it.

I’ve never been more proud of something I’ve created. It’s the closest one of my concepts have come to what I wanted the final result to be, let’s just put it that way. I have an extremely hard time being supportive of my own creative endeavors. I still feel like I’m unworthy of aspiring to creative endeavors, if truth be told. But I tried to silence the voices in my head, really I did. When I finally gave up and allowed creativity to flow, it felt good.

Now, I can almost say I’m proud of something I’ve created. This novel? THE CAMINO CLUB? It might actually be my David. That’s not to say it’s stunningly beautiful. That’s not for me to judge. But it’s the result of my ephemeral thoughts melding almost perfectly with the tools of my trade (keyboard, laptop, notebook, pen). I communicated a thought-scape almost exactly how I wanted to communicate it into existence.

I can’t wait to share the finished product. Yes, I’m nervous. Yes, I’m scared. Yes, I feel like come October 6th, 2020 I will be standing before you naked…hoping you like what you see…even if only a little bit. This one, it’s the book of my heart. It traveled a long way to get to this world. I hope you enjoy taking in the story as much as I enjoyed breathing it out.

While you’re here, here’s a few pics to show you what Facebook tells me I was doing on this day six years ago…I was ruminating with a certain story while walking my way to Santiago de Compostela…

While I still have your attention, you can preorder THE CAMINO CLUB now from wherever books are sold!


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.







It’s Been Six Long Years and I Love You Just the Same…

“When you see me, do you remember the times when we traveled…?”

Yes. The answer is yes and the answer will always be yes.

May 19th marked the 6th anniversary of my first ever steps on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. Those footsteps captured my heart. The pilgrims I walked with captured my heart. It was the end of a journey and it was the beginning of a journey. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

On this date six years ago, we walked from Cacabelos to Trabadelo. I was opening up to the Camino in ways I hadn’t imagined possible. I was also discovering it was the Wine & Food Tour of Spain. The rich mouth-watering salads and main dishes were made all the more glorious by the hunger created in us after a full day of walking across an unspeakably beautiful country. Each night we were met with delicious fare and extraordinary wine and café con leche. It made the walk easier…more hopeful.

Danielle, writing down the bones of her Camino adventures…

I knew as I walked that I would write a story set on the Camino, and I knew what the story was that I wanted to write. Alas, as is often the case with me, I could not write it while I was there in that place. Being there…that was the time of percolation. I walked with my characters, I listened to their thoughts, formulated their personalities, envisioned their journeys.

Day Two, May 20, 2014…Stepping into Trabadelo

Michael and I walked the Camino from Astorga to Santiago de Compostela in September of 2019. We did not stay in Trabadelo…but we walked through it and we stopped for a coke at the albergue our group of peregrinos slept at in 2014.

Here’s the Trabadelo albergue in 2019…5 long years after our group spent the night under its roof. It looked very much the same. Memories flooded back. The window over the door was ours. We hung laundry on the Juliet balcony when we stayed…
Julia and Danielle taking a break after our arrival in 2014. Connie is in the window up over the door…you can just make her out in the shadows. This was our second day and we were spent! We were in for a treat! Amazing food at this albergue!
My fellow peregrinos at table back in May of 2014 (Connie, Julia, Tanya, Claudette, Sue, Danielle, and Nicholas).
Claudette at the woodpile just before entering Trabadelo, Spain (May, 2014).
Michael & I, entering Trabadelo for a walk-through (September, 2019).

The picture on the left was snapped at the Trabadelo albergue in May of 2014. The picture on the right, in September of 2019. ❤

I hope I can always go back. It’s in my heart now. The Camino has made me a wanderer, a lifelong pilgrim. I hope my upcoming novel, THE CAMINO CLUB, does the sacred pilgrimage route justice. My true hope is that the story creates even ONE future PILGRIM. If it ignites one soul to put the Camino de Santiago in their bucket-list, I will feel as though I have done good. The Camino has to be experienced before one can really get a feel for how life-changing it is. And it’s not the scenery, or the people, or the food, or the wine…it’s all of those things and more.

There is something on the Camino that just grabs on to your soul and embraces it. There is a saying often heard all over the Camino, by pilgrims from every country the world over…THE CAMINO PROVIDES. When, on the Camino, you find yourself in need of something…it has a way of coming to you. The spirit of the Camino finds a way to fill the need.

Once you experience that spirit, it stays with you. It calls you back. Again and again.

Buen Camino!


thumbnail_Camino Club (IPG)

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.







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

Listen to THE CAMINO CLUB playlist on SPOTIFY!


The Lies I Told – Geographical Liberties in My Upcoming Novel THE CAMINO CLUB

I’m just gonna come clean BEFORE the book releases, because Camino pilgrims are generally sticklers for details. My novel THE CAMINO CLUB comes out October 6th. It’s a YOUNG ADULT novel, but if other Camino pilgrims are anything like me, we tend to seek out all books on the Camino for reading material. It’s a great way to revisit the Camino from your couch. Just pick up a book set on the Camino, and we’re there again!

I took CERTAIN LIBERTIES with my telling of the journey of six juvenile delinquents, their counselors and the friends they met and collected along The Way. Any seasoned Camino peregrino/peregrina will recognize the inaccuracies as soon as they come to them. So, I’ll admit to doing it now. And I will also point out the 2 major changes I made to the route here and now!

The first liberty I took that I will admit to is the placement of CREEPY JESUS OF CACABELOS. Early on in their journey, Troy and Claire have a secret night out of wandering the town of Cacabelos. They both sneak out of their albergue (hostel) in the middle of the night and find each other in the street. To this point in the story, Claire has been sullen and mostly unapproachable. On this night, she and Troy finally connect in a semi-meaningful way. Claire takes Troy for a walk BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF TOWN where she saw a very creepy statue of Jesus and together they flip out over its sheer scary ugliness.

The thing is, that statue of our lord and savior is found at the END OF TOWN. It’s right near the exit of town on the other side…so Claire wouldn’t yet know of the statue’s existence on the night in question. They don’t pass it until the next morning as they’re leaving town. I had to re-jig the town to make it work for the story. Not only that…the Albergue de Peregrinos de la Augustina de Cacabelos or Albergue Municipal in Cacabelos is on the main road…no stream, no bridge to get there. I made significant changes and I can already hear the diehard peregrinos yelling that I don’t know what I’m talking about. That’s the fun of writing fiction…you can change geographical details to suite your story. And I did! (-:

Creepy Jesus of Cacabelos!

Creepy Jesus is found at the municipal albergue just before you leave the town of Cacabelos. Make it be known that I am the one who gave the statue this name. Mary sits over the threshold of ‘the old church’, holding her uber creepy baby-man Jesus. The albergue surrounds the church and it’s an extremely cheap place for pilgrims to stay on the Camino.

The second (but not the last) liberty I took with geography on the Camino is that of the POINTING PILGRIMS STATUE at Monte de Gozo. Monte de Gozo means HILL OF JOY and it is usually the first place on the Camino where pilgrims can catch a glimpse of the spires of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostella. The cathedral is about an hour’s hike from Monte de Gozo, and on a clear day you can just make out the church that everyone on the Camino walks toward. Monte de Gozo sports a large monument to commemorate Pope John Paul II’s pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. It’s a bit awkward looking, but definitely worth seeing. It’s rather stunning, if a little weird.


Off in the distance, away from the Hill of Joy, is a statue of two pilgrims pointing to Santiago de Compostella.

pilgrimsFor my story, I physically moved these statues about 1/2 a kilometre or so, so that they were standing directly behind the monument to the Pope. The scene required all the people at the monument to be at the statues at the same time. So I simply re-jigged the geography again. Presto-Magico, the statues appear beside the monument. I know if pilgrims read my book they are going to be all aflutter about the inaccuracies. But in their hearts, I’m betting they think it’s a great idea to move those statues. When you’re racing to get that last hour in before lining up for your compostella, etc, those statues are a good deal out of the way.

They were heavy to move, but move them I did! Figuratively, if not literally. (-;

That’s just two examples of liberties I have taken to write the story the way I wanted to write it. I’m sure some great Camino sleuths will discover a few others. I would never do this if I were writing a non-fiction travel memoir. I promise. But there you have it. These are some of the lies I told in this novel.


thumbnail_Camino Club (IPG)







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

Listen to THE CAMINO CLUB playlist on SPOTIFY!



More Camino Recs! IllGetThere and Graeme Harvey

Every once in a while I find another book or Youtuber to recommend for anyone interested in the Camino de Santiago. Today, I have both! One great Youtuber and one great Camino author!

I’m just finishing up with a Youtube playlist that takes the viewer on the entire St. Jean Pied de Port-to-Santiago de Compostela Camino Frances Camino de Santiago route and it’s been entertaining, informative and quite beautiful. If you love reliving your Camino, or simply getting to know the Camino, this playlist is one you will want to visit. Rachelle is a ‘Los Angeles based GenX mom‘ and she does an excellent job of bringing the viewer into her Camino de Santiago experience. Keep your ears open, too! She’s such a lovely singer. You’ll enjoy this journey, I promise you!

Here’s a link to Rachelle’s Home Page

Here’s a link to Rachelle’s Camino de Santiago Playlist

Rachelle can also be found over on INSTAGRAM!

The first video in the playlist is TRAVEL DAY TO MADRID: CAMINO FRANCES 2019:

For those who either want to continue on with a good book or two after watching Rachelle’s amazing vlog, or simply prefer reading to watching, here’s the two latest Camino books I’ve devoured!

5169+ftPoWLFirst up is Another ‘Way’: The Camino Portugués by Graeme Harvey. Michael and I put the intentions out into the universe that we would walk the Camino Portugues in the future. I always immerse myself in a place prior to visiting it. To this end, I discovered this short book written as a sort of travel journal by one who has already been on the Portugues trail. It’s a great day by day, mile by mile view of the way from Porto, Portugal to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostella in Spain. This is a great 10 day adventure…not too taxing and easy ground to cover for those who cannot get the 30-40 days off work that it takes to complete the full Camino. Also, there is a central route and a coastal route on the Caminho Portugues. Graeme and his wife took the coastal, which is the one we’re interested in taking. SUCH A GREAT READ! Click the cover to visit the book on Amazon.

51pvwpP6t3LImmediately upon devouring Another ‘Way’, I downloaded Adventures on ‘The Way’: 1100 miles on the Camino de Santiago! I’m close to the finish line on this book and loved the day to day details! This one begins NOT in St. Jean Pied de Port, but in Le Puy-en-Velay in France! Le Puy Camino or Via Podiensis is the Camino de Santiago route starting in breathtaking Le Puy-en-Velay, near Lyon, in France. This is the most popular of the Camino de Santiago routes in France and it feeds into St. Jean Pied de Port. Graeme runs his way to St. Jean and then continues to run across Spain to Santiago de Compostella. His wife, Kirsty, accompanies him on a bike. This is a great view of the landscape, the people of the Chemin/Camino, and the hotels and albergues they encounter along the way. Highly entertaining for Camino fans! Click the cover to visit the book on Amazon!

Buen Camino!

Caminho Portuguese – Beyond the Way Season 2…

So, every once in a while I like to feature a great Camino series I find on my Youtube Camino wanderings. Every once in a while I stumble upon one and I don’t know why I didn’t find it sooner. Youtube’s search function always baffles me.

Found another Golden Ticket!

BEYOND THE WAY – SEASON ONE has been on Youtube since 2015…but in all my YEARS of watching Camino-ing Youtubers I have not found this one until now when Season 2 was recently kicking off.

Season 2 happens to be set on the Camino pilgrimage path we are planning to walk next! The Caminho Porguguese! Season 2 is being released during this time of Covid and it’s so nice to get our metaphorical feet back onto the Camino!

Join Andrew Suzuki as he walks and talks on the Camino de Santiago. If you check out his Youtube profile, there are several Camino related playlists. You will walk away with a newfound love for the pilgrimage path, if you didn’t already have one. He’s a great narrator and has some interesting discussions with pilgrims from all over the world. These videos are wildly entertaining and will also help you to prepare for your own journey.

Here’s the link to the beginning of Season 2 – The Caminho Portuguese!

Beyond the Way is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Buen Camino!

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!


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


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:




10 am PT /1 pm ET


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
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


12:45 am PT / 3:45 pm ET


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


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
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)


9 am PT / Noon ET


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

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


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


1:30 pm PT / 4:30 pm ET


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

3pm PT/ 6pm ET


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,
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.

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.


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:
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.
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!
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.

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.

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!


-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?!