It’s NOT about a Poet – It’s NOT about Poetry

WOW! It’s the 1-year anniversary of the release of my second novel, SEBASTIAN’S POET! I can’t believe it. Where did the time go!?


It seems quite a few potential readers of Sebastian’s Poet are a bit worried the novella might be about a poet…or poetry. NOT THE CASE. (-: Turns out it may be a scary title for some. I can assure you, though, that no poets were killed (or harmed in any way…or uplifted in any way, for that matter) in the making of Sebastian’s Poet. The ‘Poet’ in Sebastian’s Poet is actually a 1970s folk singer. Teal Landen is his name and he is completely fictional. But I did ‘borrow’ him from reality.

Growing up, I had an ‘uncle’ who often spent the night on our couch. In fact there is one scene in Sebastian’s Poet that is directly autobiographical. This ‘uncle’ of mine was (is) a HUGE Toronto Maple Leafs fan. In the 70s, they weren’t quite as hot as that decade’s formidable Montreal Canadiens. There is a scene in the novella where Teal Landen talks hockey with the narrator, Sebastian Nelson (Nelson is a town in New Brunswick, Canada, where a lot of my relatives live. You will also find Nelson in my first novel, Summer on Fire. Nelson is the town that book takes place in). Teal would often bet with Sebastian on hockey games–Teal would take Toronto and Sebastian would take Montreal. Every morning, there would be a pile of change on the coffee table–Sebastian’s take from the bet. Because in those days Montreal always won. That scene was right out of my life growing up with an ‘uncle’ Gerald. I can’t tell you how many times his bets ended with him emptying his pockets of change. When they didn’t, my brother and I would still get a cash grab…there was always change inside the couch after Uncle Gerald stayed over.

In that way that writers have of making characters out of composites of many, I formed Teal not only as a tribute to my ‘uncle’ but also as a tribute to Leonard Cohen. Theft is SUCH a strong word. The character is neither Leonard nor Gerald…but there are glimpses of both in Teal. If you take recipe ingredients, smash them together in a mixing bowl–incorporate them into each other–you will have something new. Most often the new thing won’t resemble any of the ingredients. But the hint of those ingredients will be found in the resulting mixture. That’s Teal Landen. He’s part Gerald, part Leonard, part imagination.

I promise you…there is no poetry in this book. (-: It’s the story of a famous man crashing at this kid’s place…and of how involved he becomes with the kid and his family. And of how he changes the family as they change him. Teal just happens to be a Canadian icon. There’s even a scene where he does a duet with the real life Canadian icon, GORDON LIGHTFOOT.

Here’s the book trailer for SEBASTIAN’S POET:

If poetry scares you, give Sebastian’s Poet a try…it contains not a word of poetry. (-;

Click on the cover:


  This novel was written during the 2007 Muskoka Novel Marathon – in a 48-hour period. It took home the BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD for that year. (-: I’m heading up to the marathon in another 3 weeks or so. I have no idea what will come out of that marathon…but if it’s 1/3 as fun a ride as Sebastian’s Poet was to write, I’ll be more than happy!

Find out what others are saying about this book at GOODREADS.

And Speaking of Leonard Cohen…

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Leonard Cohen was in Toronto on Dec. 4th for the first of two concerts at ACC.

In 2007 I participated in my first MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON. At the time, I was so nervous about the simple act of declaring myself a writer. I spent 48hrs in a room in Huntsville, Ontario…WRITING. The novel I wrote during that weekend was called SEBASTIAN’S POET. Writing it was like an out of body experience. I fell asleep at the keyboard, I wandered, I hallucinated…you name it. I went in there with very little in the way of an idea. My inspiration was a man in a fedora. A man from Montreal who had a love for stringing words together. I knew my main character was going to be a broken child, and I knew a folksinger would be his salvation.

Leonard Cohen was the inspiration for that folksinger–who later became TEAL LANDEN. Teal is the guy who came into my main character’s life and gave it meaning. He was just a slob with a huge heart…a wanderer who discovered an empty couch in a spiritually empty home and decided to stay awhile.

For 48hrs I had Leonard Cohen songs playing in my head. And for 48hrs I lived the life of Sebastian Nelson. A life that spanned the 7 tumultuous years leading to 1980. Sebastian was a boy in the Beaches district of Toronto, Ontario…a boy who needed to belong to something, anything. When Teal Landen entered his life, there was a degree of instant salvation. He was heard. He was seen. Much like the way I felt heard when I first stumbled upon the music of Leonard Cohen.

So Cohen is a big part of who Landen became…or at least my imagined image of Cohen. It was fun writing that story, losing myself in Cohen’s music and seeing where the life of Sebastian Nelson would go.

You can read the story. It has since been published as the novella SEBASTIAN’S POET. The publisher is Musa Publishing in U.S.A. I was thrilled to find how much they believed in this story that came out of me rapid fire that long ago weekend. It’s amazing what can happen at these writing marathons, but what’s even more amazing is how they make you feel. Invincible and vulnerable and powerful and weak.

Sebastian's Poet
Sebastian’s Poet

You will notice that the epigraph in Sebastian’s Poet is a line from one of Cohen’s songs. “There is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in.” is a line that has buoyed me over the years. It’s from his song ANTHEM. I was thrilled when I was given permission to use it as the jumping off point of this little novel. (-:

(Oh! And look for a cameo in the last chapter. Gordon Lightfoot makes an appearance. It was fun putting words in his mouth! (-:)


Sebastian’s Poet at GOODREADS

Sebastian’s Poet at Amazon


Sebastian’s Poet at MUSA


Chapter Titles and Stuff – Sebastian’s Poet

I don’t normally give my chapters titles. In fact, I have eight or nine trunk novels and I never once went with chapter titles. Some of those novels were written before Sebastian’s Poet and some were written after Sebastian’s Poet. I have no idea why I decided to give it chapter titles. I was at my first Muskoka Novel Marathon and I went in with a vague idea and nothing more (Each writer is allowed to bring a one-page outline into the marathon…but I’m not an outliner. My brain just won’t work that way). It was 2007. My first marathon. I was anxious as hell to begin it…could not wait for the horn signifying the starting gate to blow. I had a story percolating in my head. I needed to get it down on paper.

I wrote—distractedly—for 48 hours. Others stayed for the 3rd day of the marathon, but I had decided to only do the 48 hrs…skip the last 24hrs. I just couldn’t justify giving myself the luxury of a day off—just to write. I already felt guilty devoting an entire weekend to writing, even though it was for a great cause (Muskoka Literacy Council).

I got so into my story, I would have to stop at times because of the emotional turmoil I was experiencing. Sebastian was real. His father was real. His brother was real. And the man who one day simply just appeared in his living room—Teal Landen—my God, was he real! I wrote for no other reason than to find out what would happen to these people. And just before beginning every chapter, the hand of God would come down and hand me the next chapter’s title. That hand would say, ‘THIS is what you write about next!’

I don’t know where those chapter titles came from. Each one was a blessing that kept guiding me through that tumultuous story. I was so grateful to look on the fresh blank page of my MSWord document and see the chapter title appearing. It was as though my fingers were working independently of my brain. SO, I can honestly say today that I have no idea why I used chapter titles for this book. I know only that writing it drained me completely. I was literally crying while I typed the last chapter. Out of the blue, Gordon Lightfoot appeared to help celebrate the end of the novel and the next stage of Sebastian and Teal’s life. It was something else…to be at the helm of the story and still not know what was going on until the words appeared on the screen. It’s amazing what happens to a person when they sit and write for 48hrs…this thing takes over. They become WRITING. Writer is gone.

It was such a wonderful surprise to find out later that September that the marathon judges chose Sebastian’s Poet as the Best Adult Novel of that year’s marathon. Such an incredible honour…and honour I probably never got over. See, unlike other novels I had written before Sebastian…I had a sense that this one was special. Well, it was special to me. It hit a chord in me. It delivered me to that magical place where only athletes and those completely and inescapably lost in their passion get to go. It delivered me to that blurred reality where you are not there and there at the same time. You are just DOING the thing that you are doing…being the thing.

The story? It will have to speak for itself. Only those who read it will be able to judge it for what it is. It’s not my call to make. The writing of the story? Now that was something. The best writing experience I have ever had. In July, 2007, I escaped to a magical land…I found myself suddenly transported to the 1970s. And I had fun there. Lots of fun!

Here are the chapter titles I used for Sebastian’s Poet.

  • The Poet
  • A Prayer for a Fading Mother
  • An Ongoing Argument and Getting Used to Teal
  • Eaton’s at Christmas
  • Thelma Leaves
  • OnPaudashLake
  • Teal’s Accident
  • Sebby Takes a Fall
  • Songs for Sebby
  • A Summer inParis?
  • A Secret Revealed
  • A Late Night Meeting and Another Secret Revealed
  • Lost and Found
  • Lightfoot and Revelations

Musa Publishing will be releasing Sebby and the guys on July 6th. If you happen to pick it up, I’d love to know what you think of it. It’s the first story I ever wrote that seemed to actually write itself.

Sebastian’s Poet at Musa Publishing 

If you happen to see Sebby next Friday, tell him I say, “Hey!” (-:

Sebastian’s Poet – Release Details, Excerpt, Synopsis – Save the Date!


It’s time to start talking about the imminent release of my second novel, SEBASTIAN’S POET. (-: I had a cover reveal a month or so ago. All the edits are complete. The release date has been set! Please SAVE THE DATE!

Here’s the cover blurb for Sebastian’s Poet:

Sebastian Nelson is a boy in search of a family. Abandoned by his mother, Sebastian is left with a broken father who doesn’t even seem present when he does show up. Forced to be the main caregiver of his younger brother, Renee, and lost in a sea of indifference, Sebastian only wants to experience the love a real, stable family could afford him.

One morning he discovers the famous folksinger, Teal Landen, asleep on the sofa. Teal’s nurturing nature brings an immediate sense of security into Sebastian’s tumultuous life. But a dark secret looms between Teal and Sebastian’s father of a hidden past. Sebastian is driven to discover their secret, but also he’s aware of how tenuous their hold on Teal really is. He doesn’t want to lose the feeling of home Teal’s presence has brought him.

If Sebastian pushes too hard, he could lose Teal forever. He could be destined to raise his younger brother alone, while witnessing the total decline of his emotionally devastated father. If Sebastian is abandoned by the only healthy influence in his otherwise shaky existence, he will also be forever in the dark about the secret that will reveal so much about his fractured family.

And, I would like to share a short excerpt here. This excerpt is the one that will be available on my publisher’s website:

Once we were upstairs, away from the glaring eyes of my father, I tried my luck again. “What were you arguing about, Teal?”

“None of your business, my man,” he replied. “Don’t go asking something I already shut you down on. It’s impolite. I wasn’t just appeasing your old man down there, Buddy. I was telling you our business was not your business then and that’s what I’m telling you now. I’ve already had enough dead-end conversations with stubborn Nelsons for one night. Just let the dead rest, Sebby, will ya?”

He left no room for argument. Teal was like that, very determined to have things his way. The discussion was over. We walked Renee to his room and Teal tucked him in while I stood in the doorway, watching and yawning.

“You know,” Teal said, as he picked me up in his arms and carried me to my own bed. He smelled of smoke and beer, and maybe just a lingering hint of women’s perfume. I nuzzled into him; allowed myself to be carried. “Your Dad’s not as bad as you make him out to be. You should give him a break. There’s only one thing worse in the world than a struggling musician and that’s a struggling father. I was a struggling musician for many years. I know about that part. Don’t you think it’s hard for him to find jobs outside music, to put in days doing shit he doesn’t like? Not to mention the other part; raising two kids on his own. I can’t even begin to imagine that part.”

Like usual, I was too young to respond intelligently to his comments. So I didn’t reply. I didn’t believe in what he was saying, but I kept quiet.

“Just be nice, Sebby. He’s like a child around you. I swear you cut him open when you ignore him the way you did tonight. He’s doing the best he can.”

I shrugged into his shoulder, unwilling to concede the ugly truth. Disdain was what he deserved from me. Teal felt the shrug and pulled me into the air away from him, so he could look me in the eye.

“Seb. Your father is broken. He’s had a few too many knocks. It’s hard to get up off the ground when you’ve been thrown to it too many times. You, on the other hand, are a strong boy. I saw that the day I met you. I think that’s why I’m still here. I need you to give him more of what he needs. You have love and heart in spades. Wouldn’t kill you to share some of it with your father.”

These words scared me. They rekindled pangs of loss and anxiety that were festering deep inside of me. I suddenly had the feeling of having failed my mother—of not being enough for her—and now Teal said the same thing might be happening with my father. Then who would I have left?

Sebastian’s Poet was originally written over a 48 hour period, for the 2007 Muskoka Novel Marathon. After the marathon, I submitted it to a panel of marathon judges. They gave it the BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD for the 2007 marathon. Musa Publishing is my publisher. Please note that this novel will only be available as an ebook. If you do not have a Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or ereader of some kind…most have free apps you can download to read ebooks.

If there are ever any giveaway contests or promotions for Sebastian’s Poet, I’ll announce them here. Please SAVE THE DATE! I’m SO looking forward to this one. It’s been an amazing ride bringing Sebastian and his family to life…I can’t wait to share them all with you!


Sebastian’s Poet Nearing the Gate! (Editor Love)

Okay, so I love working with a good editor. I just went through the first round of edits for my soon to be released adult novel, SEBASTIAN’S POET. My editor was so precise and helpful. I just love the way she was able to take a sentence that was a little foggy and rework it until it said exactly what I wanted it to say. It was like she was a clairvoyant, reading my intent and making it reality. I hear writers often complaining about the editing process. Heck, I’ve done it myself. But when you read the notes of the editor and they all help you to see things in a slightly different slant—a more correct slant—it’s such a euphoric feeling. I love that my editor is able to adjust things here and there until the clarity that I was looking for comes through. It’s an amazing experience. I felt giddy as I read some of her suggestions and notations. 

Round two of my edits will be coming my way shortly. I’m really excited about this book. It was a real journey writing SEBASTIAN’S POET. The first draft was written in a 48hr writing marathon. By the end of that marathon, I was peaking on words. I felt like Carlos Castaneda flying on peyote. But it was such a clean high, this high of words. There is NOTHING to describe the feeling of writing a novel in one sitting, without an outline, without an idea of where you’re going to go. I just sat down and wrote. I watched the words appearing on the screen and felt as though I were seeing them for the first time, like they didn’t just travel through my mind, down my arms and through my fingers onto the screen. I wrote faster and faster so that I could find out what would happen next. 

Over the next couple of years (Sebastian’s Poet was written in July, 2007) I worked extremely hard at polishing the manuscript. Once it was accepted for publication by Musa Publishing, I felt like my favourite baby was picked! I’ve written seven or eight novels over the past few years, but this one…the emotional attachment is so great. It was my first marathon novel. I lived and breathed nothing but it for an entire weekend. It was my peyote. When it recently went through the first round of edits, and I saw my editor making all the iffy sentences I thought to be ready actually resonating with more clarity—well, I wanted to dance. It made me that happy. I can’t wait to see the second round of edits.

This is the novel I am most proud of. I am on tenterhooks to see the cover of SEBASTIAN’S POET. So excited! Can’t wait! 

More to come on the release of this novel. Until then, SUMMER ON FIRE, my young adult novel, is still available. (-:


My debut novel, Summer on Fire