Announcing Two New Young Adult Novels with Duet Books!

The news is out! The publisher of my most recent novel, The Camino Club, has contracted another 2 novels with me! I could NOT be happier!

The Publisher’s Marketplace Announcement

I have TWO YA novels forthcoming from DUET BOOKS, the YA imprint of INTERLUDE PRESS!

The first, a horror, will be released in the summer of 2022. The second title, a contemporary, will come after it and details will be announced later.

THE BOOK OF DREAMS

WHERE IS ETHAN SINCLAIR?

I’m looking forward to working with the amazing team at Interlude Press again. From Candysse Miller, who looks after every little detail always, to Annie Harper, who is the amazing editor who makes my work shine, to CB Messer, the extraordinary cover and interior designer who makes my books look visually beautiful, I am in the best of hands! I can’t wait to see where these new ventures go!

Stay tuned for all the details! Cover Reveal, Pre-Order, and all the rest! I’ll let you know when things begin to happen!

In the meantime, you can check out my current Duet Books/Interlude Press title THE CAMINO CLUB HERE.

Pride and Summer – Redo!

You may have noticed a couple of new covers if you recently visited My Amazon page. Both Pride Must Be a Place & Summer on Fire are now sporting new clothing. (-;

Unfortunately, my publisher, MuseItUp, had to make a tough decision and close their doors. It was a great pleasure working with the folx at MuseItUp! We had a long relationship. They were the publisher of both my debut novel and my sixth novel. I’m grateful for the time we spent together!

I now offer the SAME stories wrapped in newer clothing.

Here are the new covers:

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 Carter, 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.

SUMMER ON FIRE – Zach Carson is a loyal friend. But is loyalty enough to keep best friends together when one of them sets fire to the rural barn they use as the local hangout? Zach, Jeff Barsell and Arnie Wilson struggle to pick up the pieces when news spreads that a body was discovered in the burnt out shell of the neighboring home. When the word murder is used by the local police, the stakes grow even higher. When the police start searching for their most likely suspect—none other than Jeff’s older brother, and nemesis, Marty Barsell—the boys decide to join forces and come up with a way to prove his innocence. But just how innocent is Marty Barsell? When Marty admits to being at the scene of the crime, the three friends enlist the help of Zach’s annoying sister, Sherry, as well as the sympathetic town eccentric, Ms. Halverton. But can they keep it together long enough to save Marty, and themselves, from eminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.

To purchase copies of either of these novels, you can visit MY AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE RIGHT HERE. Maybe consider grabbing a copy of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE for #PrideReads! Pride month is almost over.

Please note that if you already have copies of either of these books–THE CONTENT IS THE SAME. ONLY THE COVERS HAVE CHANGED.

Pride Month Pride Reads

It’s Pride Month once again. Despite the fact that we are in the middle (nearing the end??) of a pandemic, June is the month set aside for celebrating the liberation of the LGBTQ+ community. The Pride Protest continues…and it is far from over. Though we celebrate how far LGBTQ+ rights have become human rights, we can’t lose sight of the fact that Pride is still more Protest than Celebration.

But…we do celebrate.

One thing to celebrate is how far we have come in a very short time with LGBTQ+ literature. The diversification of this literature is blossoming, driven by the demand and desire for LGBTQ+ peoples to see themselves in the fiction they read.

Here’s some LGBTQ+ literature I have been and will be reading in June…

JUST READ:

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore:

Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother’s spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice.

Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey’s tormentor and others in the school. It’s up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights–and they refuse to be silenced.

Told in alternating chapters with identifying pronouns, debut author Steven Salvatore’s Can’t Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.

This is such a lovely read! I was swoony and teary-eyed half the time I was reading this one. It tackles some tough LGBTQ+ issues around identity and equality in a high school setting. It also balances these issues with a sweet romance. It has genderqueer and bi representation and a high school musical. It’s definitely a summer read one could fall in love with. I can’t say enough about this gorgeous story! I have only heaps of praise.

CTTA on Amazon USA

CTTA on Amazon Canada

CURRENTLY READING:

When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson:

As kids, Mark and his cousin Talia spent many happy summers together at the family cottage in Ontario, but a fight between their parents put an end to the annual event. Living on opposite coasts—Mark in Halifax and Talia in Victoria—they haven’t seen each other in years. When their grandfather dies unexpectedly, Mark and Talia find themselves reunited at the cottage once again, cleaning it out while the family decides what to do with it.

Mark and Talia are both queer, but they soon realize that’s about all they have in common, other than the fact that they’d both prefer to be in Toronto. Talia is desperate to see her high school sweetheart Erin, who’s barely been in touch since leaving to spend the summer working at a coffee shop in the Gay Village. Mark, on the other hand, is just looking for some fun, and Toronto Pride seems like the perfect place to find it.

When a series of complications throws everything up in the air, Mark and Talia—with Mark’s little sister Paige in tow—decide to hit the road for Toronto. With a bit of luck, and some help from a series of unexpected new friends, they might just make it to the big city and find what they’re looking for. That is, if they can figure out how to start seeing things through each other’s eyes.

I still don’t know where exactly this one is going, but I am obsessively devouring it to find out! I love that it is set in Toronto and Muskoka, here in Ontario. As if the dynamic duo of two wonderful Canadian authors, Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson, wasn’t enough to make it a must read for my TBR pile, the COVER! I love to see Canadiana represented in fiction. But to see the CN Tower on the cover of a YA book? I couldn’t even imagine it. The second I saw this cover, I knew I had to have it. I’m really loving this story. I’m halfway through and already a little worried I’m going to miss it when it’s over.

WYGTC on Amazon USA

WYGTC on Amazon Canada

NEXT READ:

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver:

Everything happens for a reason.

At least that’s what everyone keeps telling Liam Cooper after his older brother Ethan is killed suddenly in a hit-and-run.

Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationships of his two best friends in the process.

Soon, Liam finds themself spending time with Ethan’s best friend, Marcus, who might just be the only person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through-for better and for worse.

The Ghosts We Keep is an achingly honest portrayal of grief. But it is also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should.

I fell in love with Mason Deaver’s debut novel, I Wish You All the Best. Some authors immediately go on my Must Read list for all future books. Deaver is one of those authors for me. I can’t wait to read this much anticipated story!

TGWK on Amazon USA

TGWK on Amazon Canada

An Incredible Pride Reads Announcement from Julian Winters and Interlude Press/Duet Books!

Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-proud, super-likable guy who friends, faculty, and fellow students alike admire for his cheerful confidence. The only person who isn’t entirely sure about Remy Cameron is Remy himself. Under pressure to write an A+ essay defining who he is and who he wants to be, Remy embarks on an emotional journey toward reconciling the outward labels people attach to him with the real Remy Cameron within.

From the author of the bestselling novel Running With Lions, a story about overcoming the labels that try to define our lives

Speaking of authors who immediately go on my Must Read list for all future books, Julian Winters made an incredible announcement this week during the Edelweiss Book Fest! His 2nd novel, How to Be Remy Cameron has an audio book in production! Interlude Press is going AUDIO! I can’t think of a better way to begin that journey than with a Julian Winters book! Watch their Twitter account for more information, but THIS IS HAPPENING!

HTBRC on Amazon USA

HTBRC on Amazon Canada

Upcoming Pride Month Pride Release Read:

There are always new LGBTQ titles dropping! So refreshing to see this market growing so rapidly! Here’s a title that is coming out DURING PRIDE MONTH 2021!

L.I.F.E. by Felyx Lawson:

Rider Williams is your typical high school student. He has classes, hangs with friends, plays video games, writes for the school paper, plays guitar, collects comics, and is gay. Okay, so he’s not your typical high school student.

Rider is trying to finish his senior year of high school while struggling to accept himself and hide his secret. It’s difficult and he might have succeeded if not for two challenges in his way. The first, an assignment about the one thing he doesn’t understand and hasn’t experienced: love. The other, Cameron Walker, a transfer student who looks like a stereotypical jock, but seems to be so much more.

Can Rider survive the weight of his secret?

It’s only the start of the school year but Rider already knows L.I.F.E. isn’t as easy as it seems.

Looking forward to this one! It drops on JUNE 25th, but you can pre-order Felyx Lawson‘s debut novel from Deep Hearts YA any time!

L.I..F.E. on Amazon USA

L.I.F.E. on Amazon Canada

My Own Pride Reads Selections:

Okay, this is where I share my own Pride Reads Books! What?! You knew it was coming.

I just so happen to have 3 Pride books of my own. Now’s as good a time as any to share them! Pick one of them up for Pride Month Pride Reads!

Billions of Beautiful Hearts (Interlude Press/Duet Books) is a young adult story with two nonbinary teens finding love online during the time of Covid Lockdown. The Camino Club (Interlude Press/Duet Books) is a young adult story with six teens walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain as atonement for their crimes back home in Toronto. It features a gay narrator with lesbian rep. Pride Must Be A Place (Muse It Up) is a young adult story with Ezra Caine and his friends coming together to create their small-town high school’s first Gay Straight Alliance. Ezra discovers along the way that he can find happiness, love, and safety in the places he once feared.

KEVIN CRAIG AUTHOR PAGE on AMAZON USA

KEVIN CRAIG AUTHOR PAGE on AMAZON CANADA

It’s Pride Month. Whatever you choose to do with your reading time this month, just consider spending some of that time reading and supporting LGBTQ+ fiction!

HAPPY PRIDE!

The Camino Club Book Birthday! Places in the book…

It’s book release day! It’s a day filled with excitement and anxiety! My baby is in the world! Will they 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.

Creepy Jesus of Cacabelos. Cacabelos, Spain. Discovered by Claire, who took Troy to visit it under the illumination of a full moon…
One of the main entrances of the Castillo de los Templarios in Ponferrada! This is where the teen pilgrims in THE CAMINO CLUB began their Camino. The castle was a Templars stronghold and it was built in the 12th Century.
This milestone marks the beginning of the GALICIA Region of Spain. As the group of pilgrims approached this marker (after a long uphill mountainous climb), Greg wanted to find an A & W restaurant and a cold mug of root beer at the top. Instead, they found this marker. SELFIE TIME!
Inside the church in O Cebreiro! Igrexa de Santa María A Real do Cebreiro. In Chapter 22, Bastien tells the teens about the miracle that happened here inside this church…on the day of a snowstorm centuries before.
Inside the dining hall where the magical Queimada ceremony was performed in Fonfría! Perhaps one of the group’s most beloved experiences.
The stamp books that every pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago carries. They get it stamped at hostels (albergues), restaurants, etc. They show it at the end of the journey to prove that they actually walked the Camino. Each place that gives you a stamp also writes in the date you were there.
The monastery in Samos, Spain. The compound looks almost like a village itself. Shania, Manny and Diego tour the monastery with Gil and Meagan. Monasterio de San Julián de Samos.
They were shocked to find Diego’s doppelgänger in the murals on the monastery walls!
The scallop shell fence that Diego, Bastien, and Shania hopped to go for a late night swim in Samos.
The magic at the end of the yellow brick road! The Catedral de Santiago de Compostela in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Where the bones of St. James the apostle are said to be interred. It is found in the Praza do Obradoiro…a huge plaza where all the pilgrims gather and celebrate their journeys.

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! (-;

Here’s a LINKTREE list of purchase links! It’s now available everywhere.

ENJOY! BUEN CAMINO, PEREGRINO!

Pre-Publication Attention for The Camino Club!

As the countdown begins (6 MORE DAYS!) for the Tuesday, October 6th release date for THE CAMINO CLUB, it has begun to get a little attention out there in the world!

Here’s a few examples, from the reviews coming out:

THE CAMINO CLUB has also made a few lists recently! Here’s a few of them here:

FANGIRLISH

UNIVERSE WITHIN PAGES

BUZZFEED BOOKS

TWO BOOK THIEVES

LGBTQ READS

You can preorder THE CAMINO CLUB at any of the following retailers, or—at your local bookstore!

Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | BookShop | Indigo-Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo USA | Kobo Canada | Interlude Press/Duet Books | WalMart USA | Target | Blackwell’s (UK) | Booktopia (Aus) | APPLE Books

Here’s the link to THE CAMINO CLUB ON GOODREADS!

The Camino Club Goodreads Giveaway Alert!

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.

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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:

GoodreadsRead what KIRKUS REVIEWS has to say about THE CAMINO CLUB by clicking on the pic below:

kirkus

Head on over to GOODREADS now to ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

The Camino Club in Kirkus Reviews

The Camino Club made an appearance in KIRKUS today! They said, “A vivid Spanish countryside setting and captivating journey bring new depth to a classic architecture.

#MakesMeHappy

kirkus

You can read the FULL KIRKUS REVIEW BY CLICKING THIS LINK OR THE PICTURE ABOVE!

Release Day is fast approaching! You can preorder your copy wherever books are sold!

Here are a few places to get it:

USA PRE-ORDER AMAZON LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

CANADA PRE-ORDER AMAZON LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

BOOK DEPOSITORY PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

INDIEBOUND BOOKS PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

BARNES & NOBLE PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

BOOKSHOP PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

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 review can be found in the August 1st, 2020 print edition!

Request THE CAMINO CLUB on Net Galley!

The first tiny step into the world has happened for THE CAMINO CLUB! It’s out for review and blurbs. And NOW it’s live on NET GALLEY and available to be requested!

CLICK THIS LINK TO REQUEST TO REVIEW THE CAMINO CLUB ON NET GALLEY!

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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?

And from Danika Stone, advance praise for The Camino Club:

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Release Date: TUESDAY OCTOBER 6, 2020. Purchase Links:

USA PRE-ORDER AMAZON LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

CANADA PRE-ORDER AMAZON LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

BOOK DEPOSITORY PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

INDIEBOUND BOOKS PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

BARNES & NOBLE PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

BOOKSHOP PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

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!

You can also add THE CAMINO CLUB TO GOODREADS by clicking the link below:

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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! (-:

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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.

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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.

PRE-ORDER THE CAMINO CLUB NOW!

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USA PRE-ORDER AMAZON LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

CANADA PRE-ORDER AMAZON LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

BOOK DEPOSITORY PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

INDIEBOUND BOOKS PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

BARNES & NOBLE PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

BOOKSHOP PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

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!

CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO GO TO GOODREADS AND SHELF THE CAMINO CLUB!

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Non-Binary in YA Fiction? Okay, But Only to a Point Please…

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. 🙂

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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.

/digression

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.