One of my favourite books, both when I was growing up and now that I’m older, is Anne of Green Gables (and the rest of the series). Did you know that they found a bunch of Montgomery’s writings recently and published them?
Needless to say, I have wanted to visit PEI for a very long time, to walk in Anne’s footsteps. The tourism PEI website was incredibly helpful in planning a 3-day itinerary. I’ll only include a bit of it here – you should go to the website to check it out.
Day one – Cavendish, Avonlea, and New London. Visit Anne’s beginnings, with Green Gables Heritage Place, the town where Anne lived, and where Montgomery grew up.
Day three – Charlottetown for the musicals. Yes, there are two. Personally, I would stay an extra day just so I can see both. Anne of Green Gables – The Musical plays at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, has matinees on Wednesday and evening shows on Mon, Tues (except Sept 18), and Sat, until September 22. After that, the dates and times change and are not on the website. Anne & Gilbert plays at the Guild, and plays during the summer on every day except Saturday in a matinee or evening show, and in September/October on every day but Monday and select Sundays. Please note, the Guild does not allow children under the age of 4.
Are you interested in travelling to PEI? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve known about Renaissance Press for five years. I met them at Can-Con in 2013 when they only had a handful of books.
I pitched my first novel to them. They liked it, but it needed some serious re-writes that they weren’t able to take care of, so they told me to re-submit. In the end we got A Study in Aether, and its sequel is coming out this year.
If you like my books or any of the other fantastic novels from Renaissance Press, why don’t you let them know and you could win $40 worth of awesome stuff.
With luck my next novel, The Sign of Faust will be ready and launched at the 5 year celebration.
To Renaissance: Thank you for believing in my stories.
When I started to write Lust and Lemonade, I didn’t intend to write a book that dealt with gender.
Before writing Lust and Lemonade, I was primarily a romance and erotica writer. I delved into the lives of men and the ones that loved them, set in mythical worlds with otherworldly beings. The men fought for each other with every fibre of their being, using their magic to save the day and save the man they loved.
When I started writing Lust and Lemonade, I only intended to write about what I knew. I knew gay men being one myself. But as I continued to write, other characters wanted to come onto the page, too. One of them was a woman named Poppy and she was pregnant. She was also a lesbian.
I didn’t know anything about pregnancy and what women went through with having a child. I relied on my beta reader for info on the female gender and about what is involved with having a lesbian relationship. I was in uncharted waters and Google would only take me so far. I had written women characters before, but the focus was always on the men and the relationships they were having. The women were only secondary and hadn’t taken centre stage. Lust and Lemonade was the first of my novels to feature strong women in lesbian relationships.
As I kept writing, I began to realise something. Two of my characters were transgender. One of them is a transgender woman and the other is a transgender man. If I had no concept of lesbian relationships, I had absolutely zero idea about the transgender population.
This uncharted territory was rather frightening for me as a writer, but it was also freeing in a way. I have never researched a novel before Lust and Lemonade. I delved into the lives of transgender people and what they went through to become who they always were, who they were meant to be.
I also wrote about straight characters finding love. It seemed right that if I was going to write about all kinds of other genders, that I included them too. The characters demanded it, really. It was only fair, they said, that if I was going to have gay, lesbian, and transgender characters in my novel, that the straight people get fair representation, too.
So, when I started writing Lust and Lemonade, I didn’t intend to write a book about gender. The book let me know where it wanted to go and the characters that peopled its pages. I also knew that, even though I’ve written many romances, that there would be no sex on the page. It would all take place off stage.
A friend of mine asked me how I could have lust in the title and not include sex scenes? It’s simple. The lust that is in the title is about the lust of getting to know someone, of becoming enraptured and enthralled with them. Much as I became enthralled with all the people in Lust and Lemonade.
I may not have set out to write about gender, but I’m so glad I did. I learned something about others that I didn’t know before, learned about their battles to be who they were and who they were meant to be. Writing Lust and Lemonade made me a better writer and, quite possibly, a better person.
Find out what happens to Blaine, Nancy, Mike, Chuck, and company in Lust and Lemonade, available now from Renaissance Press! You can get your copy here:
Jasmine Murray-Bergquist is a costume designer, bookworm, amateur archer and all-around geek. Her body lives in Ottawa while her mind is consistently elsewhere. Her website can be found here, and you can follow her on Twitter!
April 21st, 2016. The 200th birthday of one of Haworth’s most famous residents. The eldest of her siblings who survived into adulthood, Charlotte Brontë lived at the Haworth parsonage with her family. She and her sisters Emily and Anne first published their poetry under the names Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, but they are best known for their novels Jane Eyre (by Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (by Emily), and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (by Anne). As a family of three girls, my sisters and I always felt a connection with the Brontës, so to be in Haworth for Charlotte’s birthday party made Karin and I absolutely giddy.
The walk into the village in the bright morning light was amazing. They had gone all out, with bunting strung across the street and people streaming up the main cobbled road to the parsonage where the festivities would take place. We were interviewed by the BBC (and the Ilkley Gazette) on our way in which added an extra level of excitement to the day – to be from a family of three girls as well as to have come all the way from Canada for this party made us rather interesting to the locals!
There was so much to see and do that day. There were performers reading poetry, a young class from the local school performed scenes from Jane Eyre, songs honouring the Brontës were performed, stories were read. The current local curate said a prayer, and Tracy Chevalier (novelist, co-curator of the events, and editor of Reader, I Married Him, a collection of stories inspired by Jane Eyre) laid a wreath at the front door of the house.
As things wound down, Karin and I went for a walk out over the moors behind the parsonage. As we took our first steps out onto the land, it made instant sense. We were breathing the inspiration for the books. It was in the wind, in the land, in the sky, in the rocks. We were walking with Jane and Catherine and Agnes Grey and Mr. Lockwood. The stubbled grass, cropped short by sheep, formed a patchwork of changing colour over the hills and crags.
We walked for miles, over the stone bridge crossing the stream, up to a quiet spot with stunning views down into a steep valley. Further west, silhouetted against the sinking sun, sat Top Withins. Dark and ominous even in ruin, the house that inspired Wuthering Heights was a sombre sight. I sat down on a nearby rock as Karin pulled out her fiddle to play. Her quick notes were carried on the wind back towards the village. Even after she lifted her bow, the wind carried on, being strong enough to vibrate the strings of the fiddle and make its own eerie song.
We walked back to the village in the gathering dark to find a pub for supper. As we waited for our food, Karin proposed something that John Keats had done with his friends: a poetry race. I felt somewhat out of my element, as I never write poetry while Karin writes some of the most wonderful poems I’ve ever read, but there was something about those moors that made me feel up for the challenge. Karin suggested the theme of Top Withins and with our drinks at our elbows, we set about writing.
The result surprised me in that we were both happy with our poems. I finished first, but I think Karin won for quality, hands down. After the trip, Karin submitted both our poems to the Brontë Society Gazette and they were accepted for publication, which is both exciting and confidence-inducing. I never considered myself much of a writer, but this trip spurred both my imagination and my faith in myself.
The next day got us to Sevenoaks, the hometown of our aunt, uncle, and cousins. Our aunt and one of said cousins accompanied us into London the next morning where our first goal was Keats House. It is a truly lovely museum in Hampstead. I thought I knew a fair amount about Keats through conversations with Karin, but I still learned a lot. The museum is very well designed, still looking as it did when Keats lived there, and leads you through his life from the time he moved in until his departure for Italy in an unsuccessful attempt to salvage his health and his untimely death at age 25.
Leaving Keats House and heading back into central London, we took a walk along the Thames past the Globe Theatre. Here’s the thing about me: I’m a geek about a good many things, and one of my biggest loves is Shakespeare. I read Shakespeare for fun. I read about Shakespeare. I watch movies of his plays and in which he is a character. I attended Shakespeare camp for years, performing in the plays, making my sisters and cousins put on the plays with me, and as an adult designing costumes for the plays. I’m a little obsessed, to say the least. So to be there during a week of Shakespeare celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of his death was an awe-inspiring experience. The gates of the Globe were entwined with roses and all along the embankment were a series of screens playing scenes from film adaptations of his plays.
We ended our London day with supper at the historic Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. The pub was built in 1667, replacing the pub that was built in 1538 but destroyed in the fire of 1666. A winding warren of stone stairwells going deep underground, with low ceilings and gloomy corners, the place is simply dripping with atmosphere. It’s not surprise that so many authors frequented it. P. G. Wodehouse, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Charles Dickens were all regulars – Dickens even references it in A Tale of Two Cities. The food was delicious, the setting was fantastic, and the ghosts made for excellent company.
It was in London that Karin and I parted ways as she had to get back to school for exams, so I carried on west alone to Tintagel. Legendary site of King Arthur’s conception, Tintagel is a tiny village on the Atlantic coast of Cornwall. Craggy, windswept, wild, and stunningly gorgeous, I think I took more pictures there than anywhere else. I know I’m sounding repetitive but the whole place pulses with legend and folklore. The ruined castle on the headland, the caves beneath, the blending of history and myth, and the ever shifting weather create a level of mystique that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. If you ever can, you must go. Stand on the peak looking over the ocean. Let the wind sing in your ears and whip your hair. Let the voices of the past rise up from the sea and tell you their stories. There is no feeling like it.
I had one final stop on my literary tour of the UK – Stratford-Upon-Avon. Shakespeare’s birthplace. I arrived late at my bed and breakfast, but they directed me to The King’s Head, the inn where Shakespeare’s parents had their wedding supper.
The next morning, I woke up to the early morning sun filtering through crawling vines. The birds were singing boldly, a soft breeze was whispering through the leaves of the old oak tree outside, and the rooster out back was crowing in annoyance that people weren’t up and doing things yet. All the elements combined in such a way that I wrote a few more lines of poetry over breakfast, sending me off to Shakespeare’s birthplace museum with a spring in my step.
I thought my heart was going to explode when I saw the house itself. It felt like a homecoming. I felt like I knew Will Shakespeare, and he was welcoming me to his house. It was wonderful, and more emotional than it should’ve been. I spent a long time exploring the museum and grounds as well as the town itself. Walking in his footsteps gave me such a thrill.
I travelled home a few days later, but have thought about that trip every day since. Jen handling all the travel bookings took off so much stress so I could really enjoy myself. Travelling with my sister was so much fun it should be illegal. I was overseas for two and a half weeks and I feel as though I barely scratched the surface, but I came home so inspired, energized, and creatively renewed by everything I experienced, and I am forever grateful that I had such an incredible opportunity.
If you are interested in booking a trip like this. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. email@example.com
At Can-Con over the weekend of September 9-11, 2016, we had the opportunity to meet some incredible people. Éric Desmarais (Facebook, Twitter, website) is one of those. He is a young adult urban fantasy/mystery author published by Renaissance Press (Twitter, website), and incredibly amazing to talk to! You can meet him at the Mega-Multi-Author Launch happening Oct 29, 2016.
At Can-Con over the weekend of September 9-11, 2016, we had the opportunity to meet some incredible people. Jen Desmarais (website) is…well, me. (This is incredibly weird to write.) I am a card game designer for the sexual education/communication game Blush, published by Renaissance Press (Twitter, website)! You can meet me at the Mega-Multi-Author Launch happening Oct 29, 2016.
Kevin T. Johns (website, Twitter) is an author, podcaster, writing coach, and ghostwriter residing in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and three daughters.
Kevin grew up reading comic books, watching horror movies, and playing guitar in punk rock bands.
He attended Carleton University where he attained a double-major undergraduate degree in English Literature and Film studies and Master’s Degree in English Literature.
He has published five books, ghostwritten several more, and helped hundreds of writers from around the world get their ideas out of their heads, onto the page, and into readers hands.
On October 29th, I’ll be releasing my latest novel, a young adult action thriller titled M School.
M School is about Lilith Delaney, a 17-year-old girl who is recruited into a secret training facility for teenage assassins. (You can check out the book trailer here.)
As I created the novel, I wanted the M School facility to feel like truly exotic environment for the reader. It couldn’t just be a regular school building or a skyscraper in some urban center. It needed to be something different, something strange, and possibly threatening…
Ultimately, I decided to make M school an underwater facility, hidden beneath an oil rig, somewhere out in the Atlantic Ocean.
While much of the story in M School takes place within the underwater facility, I also wanted there to also be several sequences set in a tropical jungle environment. As such, I created an island fairly close to the rig. In addition, I knew that later in the story, Lilith was going to leave the facility, arrive on a beach, and then make her way to a nearby city where she would catch a bus home.
Now, as a Canadian writer, a tropical environment just ain’t going to happen in my country, so the demands of the narrative meant it was time to take my story south!
I pulled up the ol’ Google map and started looking for a very specific real world setting: a beach/resort community in the South Eastern United States, with a city big enough for a bus station nearby.
After some searching, I found my perfect location: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Ponte Vedra is a high income tourist community with long sand beaches, orange roofed resorts, and lots of golf courses. It’s positioned about 30 kilometres from the city of Jacksonville.
In other words, perfect for my novel!
As someone who has written his fair share of Canadian stories with chilly winds and falling snow, it was exciting to get to set a portion of my book in Florida.
The more I imagined the bright sun, warm sand, and flowing ocean waves, the more I wanted to not just write about it, but actually hop on a plane and live it!
If you are considering a Florida vacation, I suggest working with Jen to check out Ponte Vedra!
And if you are looking for a great book to bring along with you for some beach reading, make sure you grab a copy of M School later this month! If you get on the early notification list now, I’ll send you an email and let you know as soon as it goes on sale.
If you are interested in booking a trip south. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. firstname.lastname@example.org
At Can-Con over the weekend of September 9-11, 2016, we had the opportunity to meet some incredible people. Cait (pronounced Cat) Gordon (Facebook, Twitter, website) is one of those. She is a science fiction/fantasy author published by Renaissance Press (Twitter, website), and she seriously loves desserts! She’s a fantastic person to talk to, and has a great Irish accent that gets more pronounced when she’s excited. You can meet her at the Mega-Multi-Author Launch happening Oct 29, 2016.
At Can-Con over the weekend of September 9-11, 2016, we had the opportunity to meet some incredible people. Madona Skaff-Koren (Twitter, website) is one of those. She is a mystery author published by Renaissance Press (Twitter, website), and incredibly amazing to talk to! You can meet her at the Mega-Multi-Author Launch happening Oct 29, 2016.