Toronto Book Launch for See What Flowers

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The night was absolutely magical.

That’s the only way I can describe the Toronto Book Launch for my first novel, See What Flowers.

Magical. 

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So many of my closest friends and family gathered together at The Steady Café and Bar to celebrate my book being published. I could feel the warmth of love all night. I truly appreciated that so many people made the effort to partake in this special night.

The night, MC’d by Rachael Glassman, began with a musical performance by my amazingly talented friend, Keira Loukes. Her choice of songs: hopeful, angry, sad, accepting, perfectly captured the theme of love and mental illness that centres the novel.

Keira’s performance was followed by an “Author Q & A” led by Toronto-writer, Louise Johnson, a friend of mine from summers spent in Norway Bay, Québec (who I previously interviewed for the Inspiring Women Series). Louise asked me about my writing process, the inspiration behind the book, and some content-specific questions about See What Flowers.

I closed the night by reading three passages from the novel that I felt showed the characters of Adam Davison and Emma Watters, as well as two of the settings: Toronto and the Canadian Arctic.

Oh, and then I signed the book that I wrote! How cool!

For more photos and details about the book, check out Louise’s post about the Toronto Book Launch for See What Flowers.

 

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See What Flowers is available to purchase as both a paperback and eBook on Amazon.

Stay tuned for info about an Ottawa event in August!

                  

See What Flowers Longlisted for Novel Beginnings Competition 2017

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Not sure how I missed this, but See What Flowers was longlisted for the “Your Writeful Place Novel Beginnings Competition 2017.” Your Writeful Place is a Paris-based agency which runs writing retreats in inspiring natural settings.

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While See What Flowers did not win, it’s an honour to have my work recognized amongst esteemed writers. Congrats to American novelist D.K. Dailey for her winning entry, Pearl Passing.

See What Flowers is available as an ebook on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.co.uk, and is currently available as a paperback on Amazon.com.

Paperback copies of See What Flowers will also be available for $20 at the Toronto Book Launch on June 15th at 7:30pm at The Steady Café & Bar, 1051 Bloor Street West.

For more info about my book launch, check out the listings on BlogTO and NOW Magazine.

 

 

 

Where I Wrote It! The Making of See What Flowers

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My début novel, See What Flowers, is available on Amazon in paperback and eBook

The first draft of my début novel, See What Flowers, was written in Toronto, after I’d returned from just over a year of teaching in Nunavut, Canada. (Check out my interview in Shedoesthecity for details on how living and working in the Canadian Arctic influenced the writing and research for my novel. )

In addition to Vancouver and the Arctic, much of See What Flowers is set in Toronto, particularly on Dufferin Street and Bloordale Village. Landmarks such as Christie Pits Park, the Baldwin Steps (Spadina stairs by Casa Loma), Snakes & Lattes, Toronto Western Hospital, High Park, and the #29 Dufferin bus are described in the novel.

Not only is Toronto featured in See What Flowers, but various locations in the city also inspired the writing of it. Here’s a few Toronto landmarks where See What Flowers was written:

1. Boxcar Social (Summerhill)

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Boxcar Social is my favourite café in Toronto. I love the ambience, the lattés, and the back patio. One Sunday afternoon, I even saw Andrew Coyne, one of my heros in Canadian writing, there. He was writing too. I was writing. He was writing. I thought, maybe one day, we’ll both be Canadian writers. Maybe one day.

Boxcar will always have a special place in my heart because that is where I finished the first draft of See What Flowers.

It was a Saturday night in October 2015, just a few weeks before I left Toronto for a year to teach in Colombia. I arrived at the café at about 7pm intending to stay for a couple of hours. The café turned into a nightclub and I didn’t even notice. At midnight I was still writing. Some guys came over to ask me if I was freezing and if they should close the back door. I didn’t even notice that the back door was open. I didn’t even notice that it was dark out. I didn’t even notice that the café had turned into a bar. It was like I was in the zone on a long run. All I could focus on was what I was doing right then. The writing.

The last thirty or so pages of the book contain the strongest writing. They are also the most autobiographical and get as close to the truth of life as I know it. I’m really proud of them. So thank you, Boxcar Social…maybe it was the music, maybe it was the coffee, maybe it was the beer, maybe it was the crowd, but you certainly inspired something in me the night I finished the first draft of my first novel.

2. Toronto Reference Library

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In 2015, I took almost a year off teaching high school to write. But I kept my job as a fitness instructor at Goodlife Fitness Clubs and taught lunch time classes from Monday to Friday at the Yorkville, Manulife Centre, and Bloor Park locations. My days usually involved writing at my aunt and uncle’s Forrest Hill mansion (where I was living) in the morning from about 8:30am-11:30am, then I would go teach my class from 12:15-1;15pm, and in the afternoon, I would go to the nearby Toronto Reference Library from about 2:00-5:00 pm.

Luckily, my good friend, Keira, was writing her Master’s thesis at the time, so we would often meet and write together at the library. This enabled us to take coffee breaks together and support each other in what can be a very isolating process.

One thing I loved about writing at the Toronto Reference Library was that I was surrounded by thousands of books. The books were written by humans. Maybe I could write a book, too. It was also great to have a free space to use for the afternoon during a time when I had very little income.

3. Balzac’s (Toronto Reference Library)

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All of those afternoons spent writing at the Toronto Reference Library made for many, many coffee breaks at Balzac’s. I often brought my laptop with me and stayed there for an hour or two for a change of scene. Balzac’s coffee is some of the best in Toronto. They even have an Atwood Blend, named after Canadian literary icon, Margaret Atwood. So perhaps Balzac’s coffee contains some secret ingredient to inspire great writing.

4. Saving Gigi

Saving Gigi.jpgSince she lived in the west end at the time, often my friend Keira and I would meet at Saving Gigi a hip café on Bloor at Ossington. It serves coffee, beer, brunch, and amazing salads and sandwiches. The part I loved most about writing there is that it attracts the staring artist type. I was always surrounded by others working on screenplays, articles, blog posts, graphic design, and other creative projects. Their work made my own creative venture seem less of a silly fantasy and more of a worthwhile venture.

I was inspired and motivated by others struggling to pursue their dreams at a time when social pressures were encouraging me to develop a sustainable financial plan and settle.

5. Bloomer’s 

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Just west of Saving Gigi is Bloomer’s, a homey vegan café which serves coffee, tea, beer, whiskey, salads, sandwiches, and delicious home baked goods. It is an amazing space to write, especially in the summer. It has big booths and tables, a positive vibe, and a garage-style open window which allows you to write while people watching the passerby’s on Bloor Street.

Bloomer’s is the only café in Toronto that I wrote at which is actually featured in the novel, See What Flowers. Adam and Emma’s basement neighbour, Jess, describes a terrible Tinder date experience that she had at “Bloomer’s, you know, that great vegan café at Bloor and Ossington?”

6. TTC

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Most of my writing happens when I’m not writing. I get ideas when I’m walking or running or biking or thinking or staring into space. Or reading. I get inspired by ideas that were written by other authors and incorporate them into my characters and plot.

So when I get an idea in the midst of doing another activity, I often stop and write it in my phone. Then I email it to myself and incorporate it into the draft of my writing.

In March 2015, I marked the OSSLT (Ontario Literacy Test), which is a great opportunity for teachers to gain experience in assessment. But it is also a bit soul crushing. It is like an assembly line for grading essays. I marked the same answer from thousands of students across Ontario for two weeks straight! It took me over an hour to travel to the location of the OSSLT at the Toronto Congress Centre. I had just started writing the first draft of Parts 1 & 2 of See What Flowers, and much of it was written on the 52 Lawrence West bus as I worked a little creativity into an extremely monotonous work day.

Where I Wrote It: Outside of Toronto

While I wrote the first draft of See What Flowers in Toronto, much of the editing happened outside of the city.

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Many of the edits were done at Juan Valdez café in El Cable, Manizales
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I went to Kaffe Florida almost every other day while I was working in Manizales. Much of the second draft was written here.
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The final draft and edits were completed at my cottage in Norway Bay, Québec in August 2016.

See What Flowers is available as an eBook and paperback on Amazon. Thank you everyone for all of your support.

5 Day Promotion: Free eBook of See What Flowers

To celebrate my upcoming book launch for See What Flowers, I’m offering a FREE five day promotional giveaway of the ebook.

See What Flowers is a novel about love and mental illness, and currently has a 5 star rating on both Amazon and Goodreads.

Click here to download your free ebook. If you like it, there are many ways that you can help me promote the book. Thank you so much! Happy reading!

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Author’s Picks: Top 10 Quotes From My Novel, See What Flowers

My first novel, See What Flowers, is now available on Amazon.

Here’s the top ten quotes from the novel. But hey, I’m biased. I wrote ’em!

HAPPY

FLOWERS

FAMILY

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ICEBURG

BAD DREAMS

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WILTED TULIPS

PACIFIC

TRUTH

Do you agree? Check out my Goodreads author profile for more See What Flowers quotes.

For more info on the inspiration behind See What Flowers, read my author Q & A for the Toronto-based website, Shedoesthecity.

I’m an Author on Goodreads!

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After my début novel, See What Flowers, was published last week, the website Goodreads accepted me as an “author.” Check out my profile here.

Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Their mission is to help people find and share books they love. It has 55 Million members and is a great way for authors to connect with readers and for readers to discover books that appeal to their interests.

As an author, readers will be able to discuss themes, post reviews, add comments, and ask questions about See What Flowers. They can also highlight, discuss, and comment on quotes from the book as they read.

Here are some quotes from See What Flowers that stand out the most to me. But hey, I’m biased…I wrote them!

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If you’re not on Goodreads, I encourage you to register. It’s free! It’s kind of like an online book club. Also, I encourage you to join the discussion about See What Flowers and add your comments as you read.

 

 

Book Cover for my Début Novel!

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I’m excited to announce that my début novel,  See What Flowers, will be available on Amazon on May 20.

The fantastic cover was designed by Stella_e, a platinum-level Croatian designer who won the contest I ran through 99designs, the world’s largest online graphic design marketplace.

I would HIGHLY recommend using this site for any graphic designs you need ex. posters, merchandise, advertising, packaging, books & magazines, etc.

For more info about the contest click here.

See What Flowers, Toronto Book Launch:

Thursday, June 15, 7:30pm

The Steady Café & Bar

1051 BLOOR ST WTORONTO, ON, M6H 1M4

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