Category Archives: Books
If you’re a writer, you know what I’m talking about. That time when you are finished your novel, and you polished it as much as you can. And your agent has read it and given you feedback. And you clean up any suggested changes and send it back to your agent. And your agent declares it ready to meet the world.
And then, freeze. Strike a pose. AND….W-A-I-T.
And when you’re finished waiting, wait some more.
It’s like sending your baby to a private school with a registration screening committee. A committee that gets to decide if your baby is pretty enough to attend.
It’s difficult being creative. It really is. But it’s also a thrill like nothing else. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I know the motivation behind Sally Fields’s 1985 Oscar acceptance speech. ALL creative types understand her motivation. When she said, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” she was calming the insecurity beast that a great lion’s share of the creative community deals with.
We need some kind of confirmation that we’re doing something right. Not everyone needs an Oscar, or its literary equivalent. All I need to keep me going is a few kind words. I’d trade the Pulitzer Prize to hear one reader say I made them cry. That there is pure gold. I just want my words to touch someone…to make an infinitesimal difference…to cause someone to have an aha moment…or to sigh. That’s all.
When Sally made that now famous acceptance speech, she wasn’t being the least bit boisterous or proud or cocky or vain. Though the lines in that speech are often misremembered and quite a few people have her saying, “You like me. You really like me!” what she actually said makes all the difference in the world.
Sally kind of said, “THANK GOD! I DID SOMETHING RIGHT. YOU LIKE WHAT I DID!!” BUT!! Big but here. Just…keep in mind that in her ACTUAL speech, she also included the ever important angsty artist inclusion of…wait for it…
What kind of artist would she be to take the LIKE to mean forever…to mean You’re done. That’s it, take a bow. Take a seat. You can stop now. That RIGHT NOW part of her acceptance speech is the most important part. It means she can be momentarily satisfied with the results of her labours, boys and girls. But it also means she cannot rest on her laurels. FURTHER EFFORT MUST BE MADE! She got off that stage and she redoubled her efforts. When one is rewarded for their artistic endeavors, one must soldier on…move on to the next project…and the next project…and the next.
Don’t ever sit idle while you’re waiting for the world to catch up with your latest offering, my pretties. Waiting is time. Time is a commodity used to further explore creativity. If you do your waiting in creative quiet, you will surely fail.
As it turns out, the waiting is nowhere near the hardest part. The hardest part is having the courage and the drive and the passion not to wait. The writer-artist-actor-musician-performer is not meant to be idle. Keep going. The world waits for no person.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…
So much going on of late! The fall is always a busy time when it comes to a writer’s life. A writer with an orbit in the Durham Region in Ontario, anyway.
The Writers’ Community of Durham Region just had its 20th Anniversary Gala last weekend. What a milestone. Together, we have been supporting each other for two decades. Some literary giants past, present, and future have been involved with this amazing organization. It is, perhaps, the best run community for writers in the world. I don’t say that in passing…it is a phenomenal resource for writers. And not just the acclaimed ones…the door is open for writers on all levels of the journey.
Hi-jinx may have ensued at the Gala. There’s a camaraderie in this organization like no other. When we get together we tell stories…on walls!
And there was, apparently, a crime committed at the event. I received an email from an offshore account with a picture attached. It seems somebody is attempting to ransom some doohickey things. They want me to let the organization know that they want $100,000.00 in unmarked bills dropped off at a garbage can in downtown Oshawa in exchange for the return of their tree tchotchkes. But I refuse to help bargain with thieves. I’m so above that kind of nonsense. I do, however, wish to share exhibit A:
Speaking of the WCDR…five more things to add on that front.
Their Phoenix WCDR Short Story Contest is now open! Top Prize is $750. It’s open internationally. Closes to submissions on Oct 25th! Submission fee is $20. Click on the image below to go to the site to see the FULL SUBMISSION GUIDELINES (which you must always follow to a tee).
Also coming down the pike for the WCDR clan is the next WORDS OF THE SEASON! This is a regular member reading event that takes place in Pickering. This one will be the Culture Days edition.
Date: Friday, September 25th, 2015
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: The Bear (A Firkin Pub) located at 1294 Kingston Road, Pickering (Liverpool and Kingston Road).
Admission: Free! Food and drink are available for purchase.
MEMBER READERS are already lined-up, but this event is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and there will be an OPEN MIC session after the scheduled readings. SO, bring some work…come join us. Read for the crowd!
The WCDR will also be present at this year’s TORONTO WOTS! That’s WORD ON THE STREET…the cross Canada celebration of words. Rain or Shine. Come out to our booth to meet some of the WCDR people (MYSELF INCLUDED). You can find out just how vibrant this amazing organization is. You can see for yourself why we members keep drinking the Kool-Aid!
The WOTS is at HARBOURFRONT CENTRE on Sunday September 27th (11am-6pm). Come on down and look for the WCDR booth!
ALSO coming down the tracks is the next WCDR ROUNDTABLE MEETING! This is our monthly breakfast meeting. About a hundred of us get together and break bread and listen to the guest speaker and socialize. It’s a great event…the glue of the organization, really. There are also mini-workshops after each meeting for the eager to learn writer.
The Roundtable Meeting happens on the second Saturday of every month. They are open to everyone…not just members. And you will be warmly greeted and welcomed to the fold. The next one is Saturday October 10th. It’s not on their website yet…but will be shortly. Keep your eye out for it…the venue is changed for the October meeting.
Okay…so, NOVEMBER…the 5th thing to mention about the WCDR:
BOOKAPALOOZA 2015 takes place SATURDAY NOVEMBER 21st at The Durham College, Centre For Food/Bistro 67 at 1604 Champlain Avenue, Whitby.
I will have a table at this event and I will be selling a few of my books: SUMMER ON FIRE, BURN BABY BURN BABY, and, HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN. This is a great event to showcase local talent…and to discover resources for writers and readers. YOU SHOULD COME!
Saturday, November 21, 2015
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Centre for Food
1610 Champlain Ave.
On to other events!
Tomorrow I head to HUNTSVILLE, ONTARIO for the MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON WRAP PARTY!!! I talk about the marathon non-stop to whoever will listen, but just to sum up…it’s a yearly novel writing marathon where 40 writers get together in one room and each attempt to write a novel. AND…more importantly…it’s a fundraiser for literacy programs in Simcoe County/Muskoka region. We have raised over $135,000.00 so far for literacy. No small feat! It takes place every JULY. The wrap-party takes place every SEPTEMBER. The writers get back together, celebrate each other…hand out awards, do readings, make merriment! It takes place tomorrow…and I can’t wait! (-:
That’s it. Not so much, really. (-: Oh…also…I’m writing. My agent, STACEY DONAGHY of the DONAGHY LITERARY GROUP currently has my 2015 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel on submission. It’s called PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE and it’s an LGBTQ YA novel. I will be reading from this novel at tomorrow’s MNM event, and at the WORDS OF THE SEASON event. I’m excited about this one…so much fun to write. We’ll see if it finds a home. (-:
I’ll leave you with a song, but first—
I always say that writing is absolutely a solitary and lonely endeavor. It is, well and truly. It is something one must do alone. BUT…if you choose a writing community lifestyle, as opposed to solitary existence as a writer, you will enrich your life ten-fold. If you’re not close enough to the WCDR community (AND TORONTO IS CLOSE ENOUGH…JUST SO YOU KNOW!), find a writing community in your area. It will change your life. Community is everything!
I leave you with my favourite writerly song:
Before I give you the information for the Burn Baby Burn Baby paperback giveaway…MNM2015! Yes! It’s almost here, and I cannot wait!
I will never forget my first Muskoka Novel Marathon back in 2007. It seriously sealed my fate as a one-sitting writer. And not just for novels. It’s also how I’ve come to write my plays, and I suppose everything else I pen. Come to think of it, it’s kind of how I live my life.
And before you get on a high horse and begin to tell me nothing that takes a megalithic effort, such as a novel, should be written in one sitting…hear me out. YES…I do make mistakes writing this way. I make huge ugly stupid mistakes. I make mistakes writing a novel in one sitting and I make mistakes running through life at top speed in my live-life-in-one-sitting method too. With life, maybe it’s not so easy to correct the mistakes. Let’s face it, when all is said and done and you’re gasping for your last breath…you probably don’t get to do it all over again and correct the imbalances. BUT…with writing a novel in one sitting YOU DO…YOU DO GET TO FIX IT.
That’s what the rest of the year is for. For anyone who thinks we Muskoka Novel Marathoners write our novels in one weekend and raise to get them up on Amazon, Kobo, and all the other insta-book selling sites, you’re wrong. I spend at least a year kneading the dough of the novel I write during this marathon weekend. I nurture it into shape through careful reading and re-reading. I remove the string of LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLs that accidentally appear on page 182 because it was 3am on Sunday night of the marathon and I fell asleep at the keyboard. I remove the random words that my sleep addled brain accidentally dumped into my manuscript with no rhyme or reason. I edit. I edit. I edit.
I also–truth be told–become acquainted with my manuscript. THIS is the most exciting part. When I do my first read-through of my Muskoka Novel Marathon manuscript, I feel like I’m reading my story for the first time. No…like I’m reading someone else’s words. That’s both a great thing and a bad thing. It’s actually the thing I struggle with the most with this method of novel writing. I don’t feel connected to my work. Not at first. I read it and I keep reading to find out what happens next. Somewhere along the 72 hours that it took me to write it, WILD MIND took over. We do become machines of sorts at the MNM. It’s inevitable. It’s magical, it’s great and it’s disconcerting. We become automatons.
nounplural noun: automatons
a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being.
Yep. That’s what happens. It’s kind of an out-of-body experience. And when you come back in, after typing all those words on autopilot, you need to reacquaint yourself with the work you created. Or, rather, acquaint yourself.
You could see why this would be both a good and a bad thing. The author needs to be the orchestrator of the story. But you also need to trust your instincts and leave yourself at the starting line. Once story takes over, you should allow it to do so. This is never truer than when you’re writing a novel in a marathon. Instinct is king. Thinking too much is the killer of this method of novel writing. Thankfully, I am a master at the art of disconnection (<< also not entirely a good thing).
Anyway, I just wanted to write a bit on the Muskoka Novel Marathon and the process involved in writing during this monolithic writing weekend in Huntsville, Ontario. I’m getting excited. The mayhem begins in three days!
Again, I will remind my readers that this is in fact a fundraising event. As epic as it is as a retreat for writers, we do actually do this for a worthy cause. 40 writers. 72 hours. 40 novels. Bam! And each of those 40 writers collects donations for the YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka literacy programs. We have collected over $100,000.00 thus far for the literacy cause. No small feat. But the funds are sorely needed…as literacy programs, sadly, are underfunded. So, if you are feeling charitable…and you would like to help writers help readers, please feel free to click on the pic below and jump over to my Canada Helps Giving Page and make a donation. Any amount helps. Together, we can make a difference in the life of a reader:
Burn Baby Burn Baby has been getting amazing reviews. Here’s the synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago.
Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby.
The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars.
If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions.
Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted.
Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.
And some praise for Burn Baby Burn Baby:
I’m putting this book right up there alongside Laurie Halse Anderson’s, TWISTED, and John Green’s, LOOKING FOR ALASKA. Not to be missed. Highly recommended!
I could not put it down. I loved everything about it.
Nice way to start the 2015 reading year :)
What an emotional book. When you read a book like Burn Baby,Burn you can’t help but cry and be grateful if you have never been in that situation. I loved this book…
Burn Baby Burn Baby is a great story about bullying, love and friendship. Definitely one to add to your wishlist.
BURN BABY, BURN BABY pulls you in from the opening pages and doesn’t let go.
This book blew me away. Blew. Me. Away.
Kevin Craig knows how to write teenage boys.
This book is such a gem that I think adults and teens will both love it.
I am so surprised that this book isn’t getting more attention… It is definitely along the lines of The Fault in Our Stars and those other YA books we all love.
To enter to win a paperback copy of BURN BABY BURN BABY, click on the pic below and jump over to GOODREADS and click the ENTER GIVEAWAY BUTTON!