#YASaves #BooksSaveLives With Faith We Can Move Mountains…

Just what makes that little old ant think he’ll move that rubber tree plant? Anyone knows an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant.

If you were alive in the ’70s you will remember Laverne & Shirley singing that song…possibly even more than you would remember Frank Sinatra singing it. You see…it was their TRUE theme song. Not the show’s theme song, but Laverne & Shirley’s theme song. Whenever anything seemed hopeless, one of the two would remind the other that anything is possible. Laverne would start the first few lines to spur on the defeated Shirley…and within a couple lines Shirley would catch the bug and come to believe it…soon they’d be singing in unison…

HE’S GOT HIGH HOPES!

And high hopes? Well, they were enough. High hopes would see the girls through all their trials and tribulations. And as a kid watching my favourite show, I’d buy into it. I’d feel their hope…and the ant’s hope. I always knew an ant could move a rubber tree plant. IF he tried hard enough.

My high hopes as a writer have ALWAYS been— SAVE ONE PERSON.

That’s it. Make one single solitary reader walk away from my novel lifted. Saved. Understood. I truly believe that we can spark change in fiction.

This past weekend I submitted my newest novel, PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, to my agent. I’m hopeful that the message in this new novel is heard by someone who needs to hear it. #YASaves and #BooksSaveLives We have to believe this. Why else do we write?

Goodreads Giveaway for BURN BABY BURN BABY, and MNM Stuff!

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.

au·tom·a·ton
ôˈtämədən,ôˈtäməˌtän/
noun
plural noun: automatons
  1. 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:

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Click this pic to be taken to my Giving Page to make your donation. Thank you in advance!

NOW…

The Giveaway!

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!

goodreadsGood luck! Contest open to USA and CANADIAN residents. Burn Baby Burn Baby is available wherever books are sold. (-:

8 Days – Muskoka Novel Marathon Approaches. Have Idea, Will Travel!

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear. 525,600 minutes – how do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In 525,600 minutes – how do you measure a year in the life?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since the last Muskoka Novel Marathon, but it has. The time just keeps flying by. How do I measure the year that just flew by? Well, I’m definitely getting older. I think now is the time in my life when I’m going to NOTICE that part. I turn 49 in two months. My hips often hurt, as does my lower back. But I don’t know if this is because I’m aging, or because I’m walking too much. See, I think I’m addicted to walking. It started when I was ‘training’ to walk the Camino during the winter of ’13/’14. By early spring of last year, I was up to about 10K a day…and I was on my way to Spain. Turns out the Camino was a stroll. By the time I got back home, I knew the walking had only just begun. SO I turned around and went back to Europe and walked the streets of Paris with the same intensity that I had walked the Camino. And then I came home and continued to walk. One day last month I actually hit 30K. In one day…just out for a stroll. I continue to walk the Camino every day…with my feet in Ontario and my heart in Spain.

I guess I measure the last year in footsteps. It only makes sense. In inches and miles walked. And also, I suppose, in laughter…as there has been an abundance of that. You see, I became a member of a start-up group that just sort of burst into existence. We are THE BAD TABLE. We’re a group of writers who hang together at the WCDR Roundtable Meetings. We perceive ourselves as the baddies of our writing group, but we don’t blow up gas stations or rob banks. We don’t even trip old ladies trying to cross the street. Our modus operandi appears to be the creation of long strings of puns, accompanied by 12-year-old-boy-washroom-humour, near as I can tell.

We do kind of rock, though, in a superhero kind of way. In my own mind.

There will be a few of us in attendance at the Muskoka Novel Marathon next Friday through to the following Monday. We will do foolish things. We will laugh and giggle and be inappropriate. You can count on it. But we will all also put our heads down and get some writing done. For ourselves AND for those who might possibly not even be able to read the words we write. When it comes to illiteracy, there is no laughter. We are a united front against it…the Bad Table Alliance Against Illiteracy. Hey, that kind of sort of acronyms to BATTLE, at first glance. BTAAI. But not really. But it IS a battle we are waging.

We can only win that battle with your help. Each of us are charged with bringing in sponsorship donations for the Simcoe Muskoka YMCA literacy programs. You can donate online by clicking on the pic below and going to the link set up for my donation page for the event. ANY amount would be appreciated! We start writing Friday July 10th at 8pm. And we don’t stop until Monday July 13th at 8pm. Our part in this is to write…for 72 hours. You are the important much needed element in the equation. Your donations will help us writers help readers. Thank you in advance for your generosity. It is greatly appreciated!

canadahelps

Revving Up for the Next Muskoka Novel Marathon – I’m Gonna Burn Baby Burn Baby…again!

So many of my darlings have come out of the Muskoka Novel Marathon 72 hour writing frenzy. I have taken part in this long weekend of novel writing 7 times now. 7! Holy crap. That’s a lot of writing.

Four of those seven darlings created at the marathon are now published and available for your reading pleasure. (-:

1. Sebastian’s Poet – Contemporary Adult story with a child narrator. Winner of the BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD for 2007.

2. The Reasons – Contemporary Adult story with duo narration…one child narrator and one adult narrator (son & mother). Winner of the BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD for 2008.

(I didn’t do the marathon in 2009. I was going to Kenya that year…and did not have the time to attend the marathon)

3. Half Dead & Fully Broken – Young Adult story with a teen narrator. Winner of the BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD for 2010.

4. Burn Baby Burn Baby – Young Adult story with a teen narrator. Received an Honourable Mention for 2012.

That’s 4 of my 5 published novels created at the Muskoka Novel Marathon. 4! I did win the marathon one other time, though that novel was never completed…so remains unpublished.

1. That’s Me in the Corner – Young Adult story with teen narrator. Winner of the YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD for 2011.

Two more Muskoka Novel Marathon novels…

1. Alive & Kicking – Young Adult story with the same teen narrator as Half Dead & Fully Broken. It’s Book 2. It remains incomplete. Written during the 2013 marathon.

2. The Book of Your Dreams – Young Adult horror story with a teen narrator. Honourable Mention for the 2014 marathon.

2015?

Who knows. But I am writing something.

Which is WHERE YOU COME IN.

I need your money.

The Muskoka Novel Marathon is not only an event for 40 insane writers to camp out together while each of us writes a novel. It’s also a fundraising event. We raise funds for literacy programs at YMCA of SIMCOE MUSKOKA. To date, this marathon has raised well over $100,000.00 for this cause…but it’s not enough. With government funding cut to the bone, the literacy programs depend on the generosity of donors. The 40 writers involved in this weekend all collect donations on behalf of the cause. We are writers helping readers. But without you, we are nothing. In order for the writers to help the readers, we need your generous donations. Without them, we are simply writers writing at this weekend marathon.

I need you to click on the picture below, go to the CANADA GIVES page I have set up to receive donations, and give. Anything. I don’t need $500 donations. $5 will do. Whatever you can spare.

A View of Lake of Bays. Dwight, Ontario…just outside Huntsville.

From the official MNM website, a bit about what the MNM actually is…

The Muskoka Novel Marathon is an annual event to raise funds and awareness for adult literacy in Huntsville and surrounding areas. To date, the event has raised over $105,000. Please see About the Marathon for more information.

I thank you in advance for your generosity. Together, we can make a difference.

I leave you with a couple snap-shots from last year’s marathon…

The MNM venue - Huntsville Active Living Centre.
The MNM venue – Huntsville Active Living Centre.
Dockside Writing - The Beauty of Muskoka Novel Writing!
Dockside Writing – The Beauty of Muskoka Novel Writing!

This year’s marathon is in 32 days. In 32 days, 40 writers will get together in Huntsville, Ontario, and attempt to write 40 novels over a 72 hour period. That’s about 2,000,000 words, if we’re all lucky. That’s a lot of words. And all for literacy. But our goal is not really to write a bunch of words. Our goal is to help others read words.

My part is the easiest. All I have to do is sit in front of my laptop and burn, baby!

(All donated funds go directly to the literacy programs. Thank you in advance for your generosity!)