It’s book release day! It’s a day filled with excitement and anxiety! My baby is in the world! Will the like my baby? Will my baby be okay? MY. BABY. IS. IN. THE. WORLD!!!
THE CAMINO CLUB lands TODAY!
Thanks from the bottom of my heart to CB MESSER, ANNIE HARPER, and CANDYSSE MILLER—the fabulous team at INTERLUDE PRESS/DUET BOOKS! CB made the best cover in all the world when they created the cover for The Camino Club. I get weepy just thinking about it. It’s the aura colours of the Camino itself. Exceptional! And Annie was incredible to work with as an editor! They made my little novel BETTER. And Candysse does ALL THE THINGS all at once! Amazing! I’m so thrilled with this team behind me and the little book of my heart!
Once book day arrives, there really isn’t much left to do (especially during a pandemic!), so I thought I would share some pics of places you’ll find in the book…places that made it from the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage path in Spain to the pages of The Camino Club.
If you pick up a copy of THE CAMINO CLUB, I hope you enjoy it! My wish is that it lights a spark for your own Camino. One can dream, right! (-;
For my American readers, my publisher has created a GOODREADS GIVEAWAY for 10 print copies of THE CAMINO CLUB! The giveaway is live now and it runs until AUGUST 24th, 2020.
Here’s the blurb, ICYMI:
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 epic trek across Spain begins OCTOBER 6th, 2020! Don’t miss out on your opportunity to snag a copy from Goodreads! CLICK ON THE PIC BELOW TO BE TAKEN TO THE GIVEAWAY PAGE AT GOODREADS:
Read what KIRKUS REVIEWS has to say about THE CAMINO CLUB by clicking on the pic below:
I’m not sure how long it will remain available, but for now you need only click on the green Request button.
Here’s the description for the book:
After getting in trouble with the law, a group of wayward teens are given an ultimatum: serve time in juvenile detention for their crimes or walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain over the summer holidays with a pair of court-appointed counselors. Although they come from diverse backgrounds, the unlikely friends try to make the best of their situation. The pilgrims grow closer on their journey, but they may not make it to their destination—the Cathedral in Santiago. If they do, will they each find what they’re looking for, and will their newfound friendships endure?
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 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.
For 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.
With all my Camino de Santiago talk, I’m afraid readers of this blog may begin to suspect that I’m a little bit obsessed. That’s okay. I actually am. And even more obsessed now that my novel, THE CAMINO CLUB, which is set on the Camino de Santiago, has a release date and is currently up for pre-order on Amazon. Obsessed and excited.
But if you think I can’t talk about–or write about–anything else, you’d be mistaken. 🙂
PLEASE FORGIVE THIS DIGRESSION—>The bookmark above was given to the participants of the 2019 Muskoka Novel Marathon. The back was left blank. My friend and fellow MNM participant, Colum, took my bookmark down into town and got it engraved with my WIP novel’s title, NO VISIBLE DAMAGE. I LOVE that Colum did this for me! The working title was THE ÉPOQUE OF ETHAN…named after the title of one of the character’s blog. But I had an aha moment while at the marathon. One of the characters did, actually. They dropped their laptop and looked at it and said something like, “No visible damage. Hey, that would be a great name for a band.” I was relating that story to Colum. His immediate reaction, based on what he knew about my novel, was, “THAT WOULD BE AN AWESOME TITLE FOR THE BOOK.” And so the title switch was born. He sealed the deal with the lovely gesture above.
Today, I’m at the point with my next novel where I begin to question EVERYTHING about it. I’ve shared portions of it with various beta readers, friends, fellow writers, etc. I’m at the point where it seems I need to pick my battles and find a hill to either die on or abandon. I’m at a crossroads. I’m confused. I’m uncertain. And I feel like I’m fighting for my non-binary character. And others like them.
The push-back on this novel has been strong. Don’t get me wrong…everyone was fully supportive. To a one, every reader thought it was a great idea to have a non-binary character. They all agreed that representation mattered…that having a non-binary character in a YA would be good. They envisioned potential young readers finding themselves in the story. It was celebrated with each reader.
For the most part, however, there was an issue with the non-binary narrator’s refusal to use gendered pronouns. It was mostly a consensus. It was too confusing with the using of plural for singular, etc. The people the non-binary character were referring to while using non-gendered pronouns identified as gendered…so why should the narrator refer to them with non-gendered pronouns and muck up the flow of the narrative with the confusion when they themselves were perfectly fine with the use of gendered pronouns? Etc, etc, etc.
I appreciate feedback. I love it! I make SO MANY CHANGES in my manuscripts based on the feedback I receive from my many helpful and generous first readers. But the more I think about it, I feel the more I should fight for this narrator. I just have a gut feeling that this should be a hill I die on. Who knows…it may not matter. The manuscript may never get finished. The pitches may never get requests. It may die before it sees the light of day.
The narrator for half the book (alternating chapters) is Cooper Mason. They have decided not to accept gendered pronouns. This is a character trait. They are going to keep this trait. If it kills any hopes for this book’s publication, I suppose SO BE IT. I have to think about Cooper and others like them. The reader will have to either throw the manuscript/book across the room OR get used to reading a narrative where he/she him/her are NOT used. I’ve decided. I will die on this hill, despite all encouragement and suggestions to the contrary. Cooper’s voice depends on this. They made this decision. Slight adaptations are the little nuggets that open the door to acceptance…to change…to normativity. We shall see what happens.
Now that I have made this decision, I’m hoping I can move forward in completing this novel. I feel like this sticking point is a little bit about what was causing my reluctance to dive in and finish the last 30 or so pages.
If you’ll excuse me, I have a hill to die on. I’m sure Cooper Mason is already up on that hill, showing their fierceness in that magical Cooper-ish way they have of demanding things be precisely the way they wish them to be.
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.
I thought I would share the first chapter of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE today. As I gear up for the 2019 Muskoka Novel Marathon, which is where I will be writing my next novel…I’m also reflecting on my previous MNM achievements, failures and attempts. PRIDE is MOST DEFINITELY my most commercially successful novel to date. I wrote the first draft mostly at the 2015 Muskoka Novel Marathon. Here you go…the first chapter. I’ll include buy links at the bottom. You know…just in case you wish to read on. (-;
It’s hard to be yourself. I know, because I’ve been avoiding it for years. But I’ve also been embracing it. It’s hard to explain. You know when you know if you reveal too much of yourself you could be in for a world of trouble? Well, that pretty much sums it up for me. I live in a world where I’m not the same person all the time. I’m getting there. But I’m not ready yet. Not today, anyway. It sucks. I mean, it really sucks. A lot. But I’m not willing to destroy everything in my life just yet.
I think my father hates gays. Or, at least that’s how I see it. I can’t really know for sure what’s in his heart. Or if it will matter if (when) he finds out his oldest son is gay. I just know by the way he sneers when he sees them on TV, or out in the wild on those rare occasions when I’m with him. He looks down his nose at them like they’re some disease-carrying pariahs. It gives me this burning ache in the pit of my belly. Sometimes I think about the way he will eventually turn that scorn and disgust upon me, and I just want to die.
But I don’t think he knows.
I’m not one of those in-your-face gays like Alex Mills. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, so the joke goes. Alex is an awesome guy, sometimes. I love him, mostly. He’s my second best friend, next to Nettie English. But Alex is one of those friends I can’t bring home. Dad would take one look at him and know there’s something wrong with me, something gay with me. You don’t have friends like Alex Mills unless you’re one of them.
My father would love for me to dislike gays as much as he does. He’s such a homophobic bigot. I can’t believe I’m actually telling you this. It’s so humiliating to know something like this about a man you’re supposed to love and respect.
CLICK ON THE CONTINUE READING LINK BELOW TO READ THE REST OF CHAPTER ONE…
During the 2016 Muskoka Novel Marathon, I wrote 1/2 of the novel PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE in 72hrs. I usually strive to write the entire first draft of a novel at the yearly novel writing marathon. Honestly, it’s where/when I do the lion’s share of my entire yearly writing output. I’m scatterbrained and forgetful. This makes for a terrible daily writing routine where one has to pick up where one left off the previous day. When I try to write in this manner, I find myself needing to go back a chapter or more just to find out where I am and what the story is about. We make do, right? We figure workarounds and MacGyvers to bypass our weaknesses. The Muskoka Novel Marathon is my workaround. I get to sit and write a novel hopefully from start to finish. Doing it this way, I don’t forget the thread… I carry it with me throughout the entire weekend and the weaving is both tighter and more sensical (as an aside here, I would like to point out that the spellcheck on this thing just told me sensical is not a word and that I should correct it to nonsensical… that is probably a sign in itself).
With PRIDE, I only got halfway through the novel during the marathon weekend. I say only but really, who gets to write half a novel in one weekend? It was a great start. I found my pace and I allowed the characters to take me on their journey. Prior to starting out on the writing journey every year, there is an almost 3 hour car trip from Toronto to Huntsville, Ontario… the heartland of the Muskokas, otherwise known as one of Ontario’s premiere cottage countries. I do this journey with the help of Tim Hortons, obviously. I am, after all, Canadian.
The difference with the year in question, 2016, is that not quite halfway to Huntsville I received a phone call while I was in the drive-thru of the aforementioned Tim Hortons. I pulled into a parking spot and answered my cell.
It was Lorraine Segato on the other end. For those who don’t know who that is, she’s the lead singer of the Parachute Club…the fabulous Canadian new wave band of the 80s that gave us the anthem song RISE UP. I had already chosen the song as the playlist for my 2016 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel. I had a playlist of one song, the title PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, and an idea to somehow weave Ms. Segato into my story by way of reunion concert with my group of gays flocking to see the band that gave them their song of empowerment. It was going to be EPIC!
I spoke with Ms. Segato for a good 20 minutes. She told me what she liked about my ideas as I ran them by her, and she told me what she didn’t particularly stand by. She told me, most importantly, how she WOULDN’T act in certain situations I described. She gave me her authenticity and denounced one of my envisioned final scenes by clarifying that it just didn’t seem like something she would say/do.
After our conversation, I realized the very different turns my story could take. I realized I didn’t need to possibly misrepresent Ms. Segato by having her being inauthentic in the story, that I could leave her out of the story and still tell it. What I did keep in PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE was the thread of the novel’s one song playlist. RISE UP is woven throughout that novel in such a way that I sincerely hope it encourages my readers to reach for the Parachute Club and discover the power and magnitude of the anthem.
Pride did take a totally different direction than the one I envisioned for it. This is often the case when you chase a story over a short amount of time like this. You rush to keep up with the trajectory of your characters, who feel free to just explode onto the page and take the wheel. This is especially true in the wee hours of the mornings when you find you’re still writing the story but kind of in a fugue state… an auto-pilot state where writer has disappeared and only writing is left. I brought in parental characters who had their own story to tell, by way of gay parents for one of the teen characters. I brought in a gay hook-up app and age-inappropriate relations. I brought in characters unwilling to change and characters unable to do anything but change. I introduced love interests and bigots and bright-sides, all the while playing that RISE UP song… both within the pages of the story and in the earbuds connected to my short Spotify playlist. The song fueled me in the same way Ms. Segato’s conversation fueled me. With her help, I totally avoided the bad ending I envisioned for my story. She essentially wrote herself out of the story in a way that kept her presence all over it.
It’s FRIDAY today as I write this. On social media, writers and readers alike use this day to tell the world what they’re reading and suggest what others COULD be reading. So today, I’m going to make a suggestion. Bet you can’t guess what it is.
Here’s the blurb for PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE:
Ezra Caine is gay. He’s sort of out at school but not at home, where he fears the wrath of his father’s bigotry. When Ezra’s flamboyantly out friend Alex Mills takes one too many beatings from homophobic bully Will Severe, Ezra finally snaps. Fed up with the situation at school, he decides to do something about it. With the help of his BFF, Nettie, and some unlikely allies, Ezra rallies to create their small-town school’s first gay-straight alliance. The Rainbow Alliance Club is formed. But the changes don’t come without hiccups, one of which being a messy scandal involving Alex and a gay hook-up app. As Ezra and his friends attempt to sway their school into an alliance of tolerance and acceptance, Ezra experiences a few surprises of his own on the home-front. He also learns the hard way that friendships out of convenience aren’t always a good idea, just as some enemies might not be as bad as he originally imagined them to be.
The blurb says nothing about Gary. I honestly didn’t know Gary would strike a chord with so many people, but he has. I’ve even had emails and contacts through my site here from readers telling me how much they loved Gary…who is one of Marc’s two fathers. I don’t know where Gary came from, but I’m almost certain he was born around 2am on the Saturday of that marathon. He’s flamboyant af and when he entered the story he pretty much pranced, garden sheers in hand…demanding to be noticed. That’s one of the delights of the Muskoka Novel Marathon…unexpected characters, unexpected scenes, unexpected everything. THIS IS THE WAY TO WRITE A FIRST DRAFT. Trust me.
Today, may I suggest this little novel that I poured so many dedicated hours of work into…both at the marathon and after. Yes, we plow through first drafts at these marathons, but man do we ever work and rework these things when the weekend’s over. It took me more than a year of rewrites to get to the finished manuscript for this novel. And that was before the big edits at the publisher stage. MNM is for first drafts. It’s a magical way to produce them, too. POOF! In one weekend you have a draft or a good portion of one. And if you get stuck along the way, you’re in a room with 39 other writers doing the exact same thing. We depend on one another to bounce ideas around and help get each other through the hard bits.
I’ll be doing the Muskoka Novel Marathon again this coming July. It’ll be my 11th marathon. I’ve no idea what I’m going to write this time around. I’m almost certain I’ll have no celebrity phone calls during my long ride up to Huntsville, but I’m also certain I’ll have some ideas floating around by then. Maybe even a playlist. In the coming weeks, I’ll be asking for MONEY. Not for me, of course, but for the CAUSE. The marathon is not just an amazing way to write a first draft. Though we often forget it’s not a con or a workshop or a writing retreat…it is first and foremost a fundraiser. Every year the 40 writers who attend the marathon collect pledges prior to attending. All monies raised go to the literacy programs of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka. We typically raise over $30,000.00 a year…these much needed funds keep all the vibrant literacy programs running. Keep a watch here for my donation link. I would really appreciate your support.
In the meantime, how about heading over to Amazon and picking up a copy of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE for #FridayReads You can see just what sort of thing comes out of a 72 hour novel writing marathon. I’m making it really easy for you. JUST CLICK ON ONE OF THE TWO BOOK COVERS BELOW:
If you have already read PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, I thank you for doing so. If you haven’t already, please consider leaving a review at either AMAZON or on GOODREADS. It would be very much appreciated. Us authors with small publishers rely a lot on word of mouth…Goodreads and Amazon are great ways for new readers to discover us. THANKS SO MUCH!
Happy #FridayReads whatever you choose to read today!