In Which I Discuss the Relationships Happening in THE CAMINO CLUB…AND A SALE!

I often grapple with this treacherous feeling that the stuff I write isn’t gay enough, isn’t teen enough, isn’t ________ enough. I don’t know why I do this to myself. I guess I’m constantly comparing my work to the other LGBTQ YA Lit out there…the stuff I endlessly consume between my own writings.

I wrote my GAY TEEN ISSUES book already (PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE). When I was done with that book, I swore that, moving forward, I would only have incidentally gay teens in my books. Why should all LGBTQ teen literature focus only on the turmoil, the suffering, the struggles? I mean, we all know LGBTQ youth are rejected at home, rejected at school, rejected at church, rejected on the street and in the buses and in the subways and at the mall and restaurants. We ALL KNOW THIS ALREADY. And yes…I love a good redemption story where the main characters manage to find a place for themselves where nary a place was available to them prior to the insurmountable mountains they had to climb to carve that place out for themselves. Like, yeah…give me that story where LGBTQ teens conquer the impassible monumental odds against them. I’ll read it. Yes! That story is still needed.

But I’ll not write it again. I already have, in writing PRIDE. My struggle story is done. It’s exhausting to start your characters out in that place. I won’t do it again. Fuck the narrative that says an LGBTQ story should be fraught with identity struggle and finding a place to be welcome in a world that doesn’t want to welcome you. I’ll leave those books for others to write. And write it, they should.

I totally had that mindset when I set out to write The Camino Club. Even with that goal in mind, though, I did slip a bit into the LGBTQ teen struggle. Alas, it’s a bit inevitable. But I assure you I did not dwell there.

The Camino Club is an ensemble novel. It has probably no fewer than 8 main characters, if I’m being honest. At the very beginning I started to tell the story from 3 points of view and it just expanded from there the way un-planned novels tend to do.

So here’s a little re-cap of some of the main relationships in The Camino Club, for those who haven’t yet read it.

Diego and Shania – two of my three narrators. They hate each other a bit, but forge ahead knowing they’re in this together. They have to walk across Spain together, so they might as well find a way to tolerate each other. CIS/HET relationship.

Diego and Bastien – an old man comes along on the path and helps one of the teen lead characters out of a precarious predicament and then continues on with the group. Patriarch-Mentor/Child-Student relationship.

Troy and Kei – Troy is one of the three narrators. He’s a gay teen and his particular backstory is where I drag the GAY STRUGGLE into this story. Each of the teens have committed offenses that have landed them in the rehabilitation program they’re on the Camino to participate in. Troy’s crime was that he just couldn’t take the homophobia any more. Troy has a meet-cute moment while the group is stopped at a water fountain during a particularly grueling mountainous day on the Camino. Kei strikes his eye and his fancy. Gay Romance Relationship.

Claire and Zoe – The other gay representation in this book is Claire, one of the other 6 main teen characters walking the Camino in the program designed to push them to their limits and send them onto a path of redemption. Off the Page Lesbian Relationship.

Often, after writing a novel, I get this dread that I didn’t include enough LGBTQ content for it to be considered an LGBTQ book. But then I consider the source of my sliding scale content policing…it’s essentially the industry itself. Expectation is widely interpret-able. Some books just scream gay because of the nature of the content. My first LGBTQ book (referenced and linked above) was one of them. The original cover had a bright rainbow colored cover and there was no question that it was LGBTQ. In fact, if the reader was in the closet…it would be one of those covers that they would potentially feel awkward bandying about.

As I mentioned, though, I feel as though I have moved on from issue books. We deserve better…more. We deserve our stories to be focused on something other than JUST sexuality and the issues and luggage that come with that. After all, surely we are more than our sexuality.

I sometimes feel like I’m skating on a razor’s edge…attempting to incorporate just enough content to appease non-LGBTQ readers while intentionally making the story about LGBTQ life. It’s a struggle. It’s a nuisance.

The Camino Club has a gay sex scene. It is, after all, about teens falling in love. But it also explores multiple different kinds of relationships. I wrote it to reflect life…and more specifically, life on the Camino. The way characters walk in and out of your life and become SO IMPORTANT for days or hours at a time…and then move on or stay with you and form a lifelong bond. That’s what the Camino is about. And there’s room on the Camino for every single sexuality, every single gender, every single race…every single everything. I wanted to capture it all, but still have enough LGBTQ content for the novel to be considered as such.

Forgive me for leaving out the heavy issues, or for merely skating past them. We read to escape the tyranny we face…not always to explore it under a microscope. We need ALL KINDS OF LGBTQ STORIES. ALL KINDS. We live everyday lives and we live extraordinary lives. We were not put here merely for struggle. I for one have moved past the struggle stories. I’m not saying the struggle is over…FAR FROM IT. I’m saying a meet-cute romance doesn’t hurt. Feel Good is also a thing that LGBTQ folx can appreciate.

Do you want to read a novel about 6 teens who are pushed to their limits and set on a path of redemption? Pick up THE CAMINO CLUB today! It’s an LGBTQ book. It also isn’t. I believe so much in this story. I wrote it from a place of appreciation for one of my favourite places in the world. The Camino de Santiago is a transformative wonderland and it was something I was desperate to share with others. So…I wrote a book!

CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW:

ETA: In the time it took me to compose this post, my publisher INTERLUDE PRESS/DUET BOOKS announced a Holiday Sale!

So now, if you purchase THE CAMINO CLUB directly from the Interlude Press Online Store, you can get it for 40% off! Sale is on from now to Dec 24th! On anything in the store! This includes 3 of my titles; THE CAMINO CLUB, BILLIONS OF BEAUTIFUL HEARTS, and, BOOK OF DREAMS! Click on the image below to start shopping!

Cover Reveal and EXCERPT for BOOK OF DREAMS!

Yesterday, I was fortunate to have the cover reveal for my upcoming novel BOOK OF DREAMS take place on LGBTQ READS! Not only that, there was ALSO an EXCERPT from the novel shared! Much much thanks to LGBTQ Reads for hosting the reveal! Please consider supporting the site!

Before I share the cover here, though…a little bit about the book!

BOOK OF DREAMS was my 2014 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel. I wrote about 1/2 of it over a long weekend in that July (The novel writing marathon is a yearly event that raises money for the YMCA literacy programs in the Muskoka Region of Ontario, Canada. I’ve taken place in the marathon 13 times now. I won BEST NOVEL AWARD for 5 of those marathons.). BOOK OF DREAMS was awarded Honorary Mention for the 2014 marathon.

After the marathon, I worked on polishing up the 1/2 of a manuscript I managed to write. Then, eventually, I wrote the last 1/2. Fast forward to May 2022, thanks to Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press, it will become a novel I can actually hold in my hands!

Here’s the synopsis for Book of Dreams:

Gaige’s curiosity gets the better of him when he discovers a bookstore on an abandoned street where no bookstore should be. He steps inside and is immediately enthralled by its antiquarian sights and smells. But one book in particular calls to him. It isn’t long before he gets a bad feeling about it, but it’s already too late. The store’s aged bookseller gives him no alternative: once he touches the book, it’s his—whether he wants it or not. It’s bought and paid for and there are no returns. The book leads Gaige on a horrific descent into the unknown. As he falls into the depths of its pages, he loses blocks of time, and his friends become trapped inside ancient cellars with seemingly no means of escape. Gaige soon learns that the ancient bookseller is a notorious serial killer from previous century, and fears that he has fallen into a predicament from which he may not escape. When all seems lost, he finds the one person he can turn to for help—Mael, a sweet boy also trapped inside the book who didn’t fall for the bookseller’s tricks. Together, they race against time to protect Gaige from joining a long string of boys who vanished without a trace inside the Book of Dreams.

Now, HERE. IS. THE. COVER!

Thanks once again to the amazing CB MESSER for designing this cover that captures the mood of Book of Dreams so wonderfully. I love the way it portends to the story inside of it! This is the shiny book that captures Gaige’s attention in the creepy bookstore, yes…but it also suggests some of the dark goopy underworld awaiting him when he dares to open its cover and look inside. CB did an incredible and incredibly subtle job here and I could not be more pleased! CB designed my The Camino Club cover, as well. And I think I made it known by now how much I loved that cover!

You can read the excerpt from BOOK OF DREAMS over at LGBTQ READS by clicking here!

YOU CAN FIND SOME OF THE PREORDER LINKS FOR BOOK OF DREAMS HERE AT MY LINKTREE. IT’S AVAILABLE PRETTY MUCH WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD!

Shelf BOOK OF DREAMS on your GOODREADS SHELF HERE!

Huge Sale on All Interlude Press and Duet Books Titles and Merch! Nov 25-29, 2021!

Queer Book Sale!! 50% off EVERYTHING in the Interlude Press online store! This includes PAPERBACK BOOKS, DIGITAL BOOKS, and MERCHANDISE!

Which means it includes all the DUET BOOKS titles, including MY THREE TITLES!

Get The Camino Club ebook, The Camino Club paperback, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and the PREORDER of Book of Dreams in either format! for 50% off this weekend…no matter the format you choose!

SO MANY GREAT AUTHORS TO CHOOSE FROM! You can’t go wrong choosing any of them! From Julian Winters to Jude Sierra. From Kate Hazel Hall to C.B. Lee. From Joy Huang-Iris to Rudy Foster. From Celeste Castro to F.T. Lukens! You get the picture…every single book is on sale. 50% off for both the print and the ebook. THURSDAY NOVEMBER 25th, 2021 to MONDAY NOVEMBER 29th, 2021!

Go directly to the INTERLUDE PRESS ONLINE STORE HERE!

To shop exclusively in the DUET BOOKS YOUNG ADULT IMPRINT SECTION OF THE STORE GO HERE!

This coming THURSDAY to MONDAY! 50% off of EVERYTHING IN THE STORE! (only at their online store!) The 50% discount will appear in the cart at CHECKOUT!

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.

Giveaway to Celebrate THE CAMINO CLUB Being a FINALIST in the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Teen Fiction!

Hello Readers!

Recently I discovered that THE CAMINO CLUB was a finalist in the 2021 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for TEEN FICTION!

I thought I would celebrate this achievement with a little giveaway. This one will be for a PRINT COPY of THE CAMINO CLUB being sent directly from my publisher INTERLUDE PRESS and DUET BOOKS.

All you have to do to enter is RT (Retweet) my PINNED TWEET on TWITTER. RT the tweet before midnight on APRIL 17th (USA and CANADA only for this one!) and you will be entered to win a paperback of THE CAMINO CLUB. (NO NEED TO FOLLOW ME, JUST RT THE TWEET.) Since I’ll be purchasing this one from the publisher and having them mail it directly to the winner, this copy WILL NOT BE SIGNED.

You can click on the image below to go DIRECTLY to my TWITTER PROFILE. The pinned tweet at the very top of my timeline is the one you need to RETWEET. I will be choosing a winner at random and contacting them for their address on the 18th. (I even included my pinned tweet in the picture below, so you know which one to RETWEET. (-: )

Enter by midnight on the 17th!

The GOLD & SILVER winners of the 2021 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Teen Fiction will be announced during online ceremonies between May 11-14, 2021.

Read the press release on the finalist list HERE.

Thank you for entering and GOOD LUCK! If you happen to win this copy, I hope you enjoy reading THE CAMINO CLUB!

Buen Camino!

Billions of Beautiful Hearts is OUT!

My cute little short story BILLIONS OF BEAUTIFUL HEARTS about two teens who find a way to come together during the time of Covid lockdown is now out in the universe! Much thanks and gratitude to my readers who made this a #1 New Release on Amazon this week! My two nonbinary teen characters also thank you! I don’t think I have to say this, but representation is so important. I’m glad Wen & Kaye have made their way out into the world…and I’m excited that they’ve been well received. Thank you all who supported this short story!

Click the image below to go to Amazon to pick up a copy of Billions of Beautiful Hearts!Billions of Beautiful Hearts is one of four short stories in the COME WHAT MAY series…and I can promise you that the other 3 are quite lovely. One of the perks of being involved in this project is that I was able to get early reads on the other 3 stories. You’ll want to pick them up! Links below for the other COME WHAT MAY stories:

GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING by CLAIRE RUDY FOSTER is already out and available!

AND ALWAYS COMING BACK by JUDE SIERRA comes out Tuesday Feb 16th and is available for pre-order now.

SUNNY PASTURES by LILAH SUZANNE comes out Tuesday Feb 23rd and is available for pre-order now.

THANK YOU!

Come What May – February 2021 – from Interlude Press!

Last week I announced my upcoming short story, Billions of Beautiful Hearts. I also mentioned that it’s one in a group of short stories being published by Interlude Press. There are 3 other stories in the Come What May project.

All 4 of these shorts are available at your favourite ebook retailers, including Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple Books and more. Below, you will find the Direct-from-the-Publisher buy links for the 3 remaining stories:

In GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING by Claire Rudy Foster, Laura and Thea live together in a punk house in Washington, D.C. Thea, a brash and unapologetic trans girl, lives the punk life to its fullest. But Laura leaves her leather and safety pins at home each day when she leaves for work in a government job—hiding her anti-establishment lifestyle from her co-workers and her mainstream tastes from her housemates.

When she invites Thea with her to see a Vermeer exhibit, Laura finds the courage to open up to Thea while viewing her favorite painting. Thea—normally critical of mainstream art—is charmed by both the painting and by Laura.

Available here for the special pre-order price of 99 cents

In AND ALWAYS COMING BACK by Jude Sierra, at first, David and Evan found a silver lining to quarantine in togetherness. But as the months wore on, the novelty wore off. At the seven-month marker, David broke down—but not because of what was happening outside. Recognizing that loneliness could wield power even when you’re not alone, David and Evan commit to rediscovering the silver that lines togetherness.

Available here for the special pre-order price of 99 cents

In SUNNY PASTURES by Lilah Suzanne when Frankie’s glamorous big city life falls apart, the only place she has left to go is her grandmother’s retirement village where she’s charmed by her grandmother’s friends, and a beautiful home health aide named Claire.

Available here for the special pre-order price of 99 cents

Covers are on their way for these 4 short stories. The release schedule is as follows:

The Girl with the Pearl Earring – February 2, 2021

Billions of Beautiful Hearts – February 9, 2021

And Always Coming Back – February 16, 2021

Sunny Pastures – February 23, 2021

CLICK ON THE TEMPORARY COVERS BELOW TO VISIT EACH STORY ON GOODREADS! Don’t forget to add to your TO READ shelf!

The Camino Club Cover and Buy Links

The cover of THE CAMINO CLUB was revealed earlier this week and I am 100% in love with it. Not only did CB Messer capture the beauty of the Milky Way in this cover, but they also nailed the Camino vibe with stamps, arrows, shells, backpacks, and footprints. This cover IS the Camino de Santiago! I could not possibly be happier!

You can head over to CB MESSER to see other gorgeous CB Messer covers and illustrations.

See the cover reveal at LGBTQ READS. There’s an excerpt from The Camino Club at the link as well: THE CAMINO CLUB COVER REVEAL AND EXCERPT AT LGBTQ READS!

Before I drop all the purchase links for places you can go to pre-order The Camino Club, I just wanted to add that the stamps in the background of this cover are the actual stamps Michael and I collected on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain last September when we walked the route to Santiago de Compostela. One of the things pilgrims do is carry a stamp book with them on their journey. They get stamps at churches, restaurants, hotels, hostels, albergues, etc…to prove that they have made the journey. Once they get to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, their stamp books are verified prior to them receiving the compostela (certificate) which states that they have walked the pilgrim’s path. MY STAMPS ARE LITERALLY ON THE COVER!!

thumbnail_Camino Club (IPG)

Here’s where you can pick up your pre-ordered copy of THE CAMINO CLUB:

THE CAMINO CLUB – After getting in trouble with the law, six wayward teens are given an ultimatum: serve time in juvenile detention for their crimes, or walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain over the summer holidays with a pair of court-appointed counselor guides. When it becomes clear the long walk isn’t really all that much of an option, they set out on a journey that will either make or break who they are and who they are to become.

USA PRE-ORDER LINK: THE CAMINO CLUB

CANADA 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

BOOK DEPOSITORY 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

I made a playlist for this novel. Songs I listened to while I wrote it. It’s on SPOTIFY.

Listen to THE CAMINO CLUB playlist on SPOTIFY!

11 Wonderfully Diverse YA Novels with LGBTQ+ Representation! Pride Must Be A Place Now on Wiki Ezvid…

Check out this Wiki Ezvid List on which Pride Must Be A Place is being featured! Pride is in some great company on this list of YA novels with diverse LGBTQ+ representation! Watch the accompanying video to get a snap-shot of Pride‘s synopsis! CLICK ON THE HEADLINE BELOW TO WATCH THE VIDEO FEATURING THE 11 BOOKS:

11 Wonderfully Diverse YA Novels About LGBTQ+ Characters

Love BOOK LISTS? There’s a lot to love on Wiki Ezvid then. Check out some of their FICTION LISTS HERE!

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You can pick up a Kindle copy of PRIDE here.

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