Left Bank Writers Retreat – Paris!

Hello all,

I went down a nice little rabbit hole this morning. Or shall I say trou de lapin? At any rate, today’s #TBT or #ThrowbackThursday idea to post something about Paris made me fall in love with the LEFT BANK WRITERS RETREAT all over again! Speaking of RABBITS, did you know that Picasso at the Lapin Agile, the play by actor, writer, renaissance man, Steve Martin, was actually set in a place in Paris? Montmartre to be exact!

There will probably be many digressions today. (-: Where was I? Oh yes, the Left Bank Writers Retreat! It happens every June in the City of Love & Lights. It’s a unique one-week retreat that explores writing and Paris and Hemingway ALL AT ONCE! Almost 5 years ago, I attended this retreat and it was magic from moment one. You write in the Tuileries, in Luxembourg Gardens, in the garden behind Notre Dame Cathedral. You visit Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie and Montmartre. You dine at Hemingway’s hangouts and where Fitzgerald dined. It’s all writing world and Paris world meets and you just have to experience it to know the gorgeous retreat it is.

I believe there are still spots available for June, 2019…though I suppose I should have checked with Darla first! You can meet DARLA, TRAVIS & SARAH here. They are the incredible faculty of the retreat and their knowledge of Paris, Hemingway and writing, combined with their incredible personalities, MAKE the experience what it is.

All your days are mapped out for you and each one is magical. Your evening? ALL YOURS! You might be fortunate enough to make some new friends at the intimate retreat and hit the streets together! My traveling companion in the evenings became new friend, fellow writer and poet, Nina. Here we are atop the Arc!

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With Nina atop the Arc de Triomphe, Paris France, June 2014 – Left Bank Writers Retreat. And, yes, that IS the beautiful Avenue des Champs-Élysées behind us!

Click on the pic of the website below to visit the LEFT BANK WRITERS RETREAT site to find out all the details, including the itinerary, payment, FAQ, etc…

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You should do yourself and your writing life a solid in 2019 and jump into the Left Bank! You’ll love it!

 

On the Horizon – 2019 Goals

  • I will finish my Middle Grade non-binary novel and figure out a title for it
  • I will have my 7th novel published. This is a given as the contract was already signed. Look for I WILL TELL THE NIGHT early in the new year (release date to be announced)
  • I WILL find a home for my young adult Camino de Santiago novel
  • I WILL finish my young adult novel The Book of My Dreams
  • I will write more often
  • I will continue to discover who I am and work towards becoming that person
  • I WILL walk on the Camino de Santiago once again!

I don’t have a lot of goals for 2019 and at least one of them is already achieved. I can’t wait for I WILL TELL THE NIGHT to be out into the world. It’s been a few years since I wrote an adult novel. NO…that doesn’t mean it has any explicit content or anything like that. It simply means it’s not written for a teen/child audience. It’s a contemporary family saga, I suppose. It virtually came out in one sitting at the 2016 Muskoka Novel Marathon…and it was added to and polished in the meantime. Going through edits with the publisher soon-ish. I will announce the release date soon. It actually won BEST ADULT NOVEL at the marathon… An honour I NEVER get tired of receiving. I WILL TELL THE NIGHT was my 5th marathon win.

cropped-untitled2.jpgLast night I had a hard time sleeping. Not a very good way to spend the last night of sleep of 2018. BUT! I came up with a way to get my characters out of the basement dungeon in my young adult horror novel THE BOOK OF MY DREAMS. Once I complete the middle grade I’m currently working on, I will make it my mission to finish the Dreams book! I took notes this morning to help me get there. (-: And I have really been letting the aforementioned middle grade novel percolate in order to find my next moves that will take me to the end I envision. It’s my first (but hopefully not my last) novel with a non-binary main character. I really want to finish this one! It’s gone through a few title changes already, but none of them are sticking. WHICH IS REALLY WEIRD FOR ME, AS I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS START WITH A TITLE AND GO FROM THERE. I don’t mind. I just know it deserves a better title than the ones I have thus far come up with.

 

In September we are heading for the Camino de Santiago in Spain again. Hopefully before that time I will be able to announce a home for my Camino novel that I worked so hard to create. It really is a special one for me, so I NEED it to find a home. Honestly, whenever I have a novel out on submission I struggle to write regularly. It feels like that exposure–knowing that it’s out there–causes a crippling handicap to my creativity. But not only that, I just really want it to be in the world.

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The Camino Passport Book (Credential) and patches for our backpacks!

I hope all your goals and dreams for 2019 come true. If you practice New Year’s Resolutions may they all be reasonable and kind. And may you achieve them or be kind to yourself if you don’t. I hope you find a more firm standing in self in 2019. Enjoy your shiny new year. Stand in the place where you live.

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Pokhara, Nepal (September, 2018)

 

Thoughts on the End of a Year

As 2018 draws to an end, I suppose it’s time for another one of those all-encompassing posts of reflection and upcoming things. It’s been an exciting year in several ways. Not the least of which was our trip to India and Nepal this past September. Hard to believe it was so long ago, but it’s been my experience that the BER months come in and out of existence in the blink of an eye. Just as they are the most dreaded months on the calendar for me, they are also the ones that race by the quickest. I suppose it’s the old tired year making that last ditch sprint to the finish line, eager to be done with itself. Maybe the year itself doesn’t even like its last few months.

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I sometimes forget that we have beauty right here at home, in our own backyard. Though I found myself on the other side of the planet this year, I also discovered beauty here in Ontario. If we close our eyes to our own beauty, we miss so much. Don’t forget that you can TRAVEL at home. All you need is time and a sense of adventure. Discover the world, yes…but don’t close your eyes to the world around you because it’s too near. Wanderlust begins at your front door…not necessarily at the airport. (Waterfront Trail – Ajax, Ontario. October, 2018)

2018 has been a year filled with writerly stuff, even though I feel I did so very little actual writing. I don’t know how that keeps happening, but it does. I think it’s the mark of a true charlatan to pull off something like this…to appear to be something you wouldn’t really be under close scrutiny. Does one have to constantly practice the art of the thing they brazenly call themselves to actually be that thing? Does writing need to take place before one can call themselves a writer? Who polices these things anyway?

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Nepal. After visiting the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini (Once in India, but now in Nepal), we stayed at Barauli Community Homestay. A bike-ride through the village was the most delightful thing you could imagine. I have no idea why I’m not smiling in this picture. I felt euphoric the whole time I was on that bike.

But not everything is about writing. Sometimes a writer is merely a collector of memories. We meticulously store and catalogue the world in our unreliable memory banks so that we can access the information at a later date and spew it out inaccurately through our own renditions of truth and memory. We bury memories and unearth them later, tarnished and dented, and pound them into a slightly accurate rendition of what they really were when we lived them. Is that a close description of fiction? Truth in the lies…a crooked lens portraying something that could pass as plausible if we manage to suspend our disbelief and mis-remember just enough to cloud it all over in a whimsical world that wouldn’t accurately sit atop the one in which we actually live? Anyway…I lived some in 2018 so that I may write about it later…

I believe we fell in love with Nepal in 2018. It was a little unexpected, but not a surprise. First it was Pokhara, with its simple orderly streets calming our hearts after the whirlwind insanity of the heart-breakingly beautifully chaotic streets of India. Don’t get me wrong, I could LIVE in the streets of India. The beauty stole my breath on countless occasions. But getting out of the bus in Pokhara was like releasing a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. It was a relatively calm environment juxtaposed against India. There was a new order we somehow didn’t realize we didn’t have up to that point in our journey. In Pokhara, we exhaled. The pictures above are mostly of Kathmandu, but the one with us in a boat was taken in Pokhara on a magical day when we climbed a mountain to see a gorgeous stupa majestically claiming the peak as its forever home.

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The Shanti Stupa at the top of the world, overlooking the peaceful beauty of Phewa Lake and the wonder that is the city of Pokhara, Nepal, just beyond its idyllic waters.

Before Nepal, came INDIA. It was a lifelong dream of mine to visit India. I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to go there. I hoped I would eventually get there, but with most big ticket bucket-list items…one sometimes worries they won’t ever check it off. It being at the top of my list, I’m so happy to have fulfilled the lifelong dream. And we saw so much of it. Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi…it was all beautiful, all breathtaking, all heartwarming. But the jewel, for me, was a place that had never made it to that childhood wish and hope and dream place of stepping foot in India. The jewel, for me, was ORCHHA. What a wonder. You can read about our time in ORCHHA HERE.

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My feet failed to touch the ground in mesmerizingly beautiful and magical ORCHHA. I’ll never forget this city.  One gets to discover only a few heart homes in their lifetime, if they’re lucky. This was definitely one of mine.

Yes, 2018 was a fantastic year for world travel. We had a blast. Even our own Ottawa, Ontario was a highlight for me. I had never been there, though it is only a few hundred kilometres away. Travel your doorstep…if you don’t, you’re missing out on some fantastic stuff.

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MY first trip to Ottawa was this past summer. We did the Hop On Hop Off. I LOVE Ottawa! Especially the market!
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Did I mention I walked in my first Pride Parade this summer? Toronto. Amazing experience!

Now, on to my WRITER life in 2018. I stepped up to the WCDR Board of Directors this year, as well…part of my writerly-stuff immersion. I am currently the Membership Coordinator for the writing organization. I recently sat on a panel at a WCDR Monthly Network Meeting, too. As an industry professional, if you can dig it. 2018 also saw the birth of NOVEL #6 for me! Though I signed the contract for PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE in the closing month of 2017, it hit the world in February of this past year. I also sold NOVEL #7 I WILL TELL THE NIGHT in 2018. It will see birth into the world in the opening months of 2019.

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Book Baby #6 PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE! February 6, 2018.

It wasn’t an entirely unproductive year for me. Two books placed and one looking for a home. I’m extremely hopeful of the one on submission. It was such a thrill to write…my baby. Oh, and I also began another novel…at the 2018 Muskoka Novel Marathon. I swear, if I didn’t do this once-a-year 72 hr novel writing marathon I probably couldn’t call myself a writer at all. It’s where I do the lion’s share of my yearly writing. That’s bad, isn’t it? That I could distill my entire writing year into 3 days? Ugh. I need more discipline. I need a more solid writing schedule. Do we still make goals for ourselves in JANUARY? Maybe my resolution should be to WRITE MORE.

I already know what’s in store for me in January, though. EDITING! I begin the editing process of bringing I WILL TELL THE NIGHT to the stage. I adore the book, actually…and I’m looking forward to working with my editor on it. It’s a shift from my recent spat of YOUNG ADULT novels…as it’s an adult contemporary. We shall see how this goes. I’m told it will be releasing sometime in the new year. I look forward to the arduous editing stage AND, even more so, to finding out how the publisher interprets the story into a COVER! Muse did a lovely job with my PRIDE cover.

Any more writerly things in 2018? Let’s see. I DID work on several short stories. One of which I published on Amazon and Kobo. LIGHT NEAR THE END OF THE WORLD is available to read. It’s a short story I set on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. The Camino is a passion and an obsession for me. I wrote several stories set on its sacred pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

I believe that rounds out the year for writing. In the new year, I hope to complete my 2018 MNM novel…though I’m not sure what I will do with it. It’s a middle grade novel and I’m not quite sure the world is ready for it. We shall see. (-;

Here’s to a wonderful 2019. May you reach your goals and set new and exciting ones. May you have some dreams come true and nightmares end. Whatever you seek, my hope is that you find it. Open yourself to possibility and wonder. I find it helps you to discover it. HAPPY END OF 2018!

Now go forth and pick up a copy of my 2018 novel PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, if you haven’t yet done so. Really, it’s on sale at Amazon at less than the price of a latte. Also, you might actually enjoy it more…just click on the cover below…

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PICK IT UP AT AMAZON TODAY!

 

 

I’m on a Panel! At the December WCDR Monthly Network Meeting

I’ve been talking about the WCDR ever since I began blogging. For those who missed it, the WCDR is the Writers’ Community of Durham Region. They are one of the most vibrant writing organizations in Canada, if not the world. I’m biased, I’m sure…but it’s a very active writing community just outside Toronto (East of the city). They’re about 300 members strong and they meet once a month in Whitby, Ontario for an interesting and informative hands-on writing event. Each meeting, there’s a guest author/speaker/agent/publishing professional/etc that leads the group into a morning of writing craft discussion. I’ve been a member since 2003. I am currently serving on the board of directors for the organization, as Membership Coordinator.

On Saturday December 8th we’ll be meeting for our annual special holiday gathering. This is the month where the WCDR puts together a panel of WCDR members who have some knowledge of their own to share with the rest of the writing community. As all families do, we also celebrate the holiday season at this last meeting of the year. I’m honoured to have been asked to sit on the panel this year. I’ll be there answering any writing related questions that might come up from the membership and guests in attendance, alongside RICH HELMS, JACKIE BROWN, and BARBARA HUNT.

It’s not too late to register for this meeting…and you don’t have to be a WCDR member to attend. Come check it out. It’s worth getting out of bed early on a Saturday morning and it’s ALSO worth sneaking across that chasm east of Scarborough into the land of Durham Region. I know…it’s hard to imagine there’s a world EAST OF THE CITY…but there is…and it’s extremely friendly to writers of all levels of achievement. If you’re on the writing path or even just considering jumping into the path, the WCDR is the place for you!

REGISTER FOR THE WCDR HOLIDAY PANEL NETWORK MEETING HERE!

Registration for this meeting is $15 for members online or $17 for non-members. You can even just show up at the door and pay $18. Typically the December meeting is the most populated one…so I suggest registering early!

Learn more about the WCDR HERE

 

An Appearance at Word Up Barrie

This coming Thursday I’ll be making an appearance at Word Up Barrie in Barrie, Ontario at the Unity Market Cafe and Studios. Show starts at 7pm.

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Click on this rack of shirts to buy one or two or all my books on Amazon. I know you wanna…

Author Event this coming THURSDAY (November 8th, 2018) in Barrie, Ontario! Please come and join me and the good people at WORD UP BARRIE as they host me as one of their two feature authors at a reading taking place at Unity Market Cafe & Studios this coming THURSDAY. Event begins at 7pm.

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Novel Aesthetic for NaNoWriMo, Explained

So, one of the prompts for the #LGBTQwrimo hashtag calendar over on Twitter for the month of November is to create a novel aesthetic for your WIP (work in progress). I don’t usually do these, but I’m attempting to do all the month’s prompts. So, here is the NA for my current WIP, which is tentatively titled Aaron With an E:

 

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Novel Aesthetic – Aaron with an E

I didn’t really get a chance to break the aesthetic down on Twitter, so I thought I would do so here. So, my novel aesthetic…in six photos. (The six photos are referenced below and are highlighted in the pseudo-synopsis below:

In the top left corner, we have my main character, Aaron. Aaron is going through the discover process of realizing they are non-binary. They are in Grade 7 at Riverside Elementary. Every year Aaron has gone to a different school. Their father does not have his shit together and he’s moved the two of them around from city to city in his attempts to stay employed and sheltered under a roof. Aaron is always the new kid in school. On their first day of school, Aaron finds out that Grade 7s always have a talent show. Every year, there is the annual Riverside’s Got Talent show. The talent comes from the grad 7 class and participation is mandatory. The behind the scenes crew are the grade 8 class. Aaron is lumped in with Conrad and Zack and together the three students need to discover their talent and produce something to showcase it for the competition. Aaron realizes up front that the biggest competition is the hottest boy in the whole class and his group of friends. Billy is the lead singer of the actual band his group comprises of. Aaron has a super crush on him and also fears competing against the hottest band since the beginning of time. Aaron, Zack and Conrad discover a mutual love of manga and graphic novels when they come across The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang in the school library. Each has dabbled in drawing comic books and in a last ditched effort to come up with a talent before the teacher automatically assigns one, the three students decide to create a new comic and turn it into a short video by utilizing each of their talents.

We shall see how this goes.

Happy Nanowrimo’ing, writers!