First Draft in One Weekend – Part 10!

Here we go again! I am now only 4 days out from the 2018 (MNM) Muskoka Novel Marathon (<<<—VISIT the link to learn all about the marathon!)(It begins at 8pm on Friday July 13th, 2018 and runs for 72 hours straight. Sleeping is an option, but not mandatory.)! I love this event so much. The camaraderie of my fellow writers, the fact that we raise so much money every year for literacy programs, the fact that I get so much writing done in 72 hours, the fact that the venue is nestled inside one of the most beautiful towns in our fair country. So many reasons for me to love the Muskoka Novel Marathon.

This time next week, I will be wrapping up my novel writing marathon weekend. I’ll be exhausted, struggling to get to the end of the last day, looking forward to getting home and shocked that it will all soon be over for another year.

When one is a writer on the side, one appreciates downtime from life in order to JUST WRITE. It’s such a miraculous thing to just spirit yourself away and write. I am sitting here with all these ideas in my head, wondering if any of them are going to land long enough for me to hit the ground running come Friday. Or maybe, like with some of my marathons, I won’t hit on the right idea until the starting bell goes off at Friday at 8pm. Or, like my last marathon in 2016…I’ll hit on the idea that catches and becomes something some twenty-four hours into the marathon. I never know until I sit down. That’s the fear, that’s the excitement, that’s the thrill.

Thank you so much to all the people who have pledged donations to the cause. Your funds are 100% used for the literacy programs run by the YMCA Muskoka Literacy Services. Sadly, these are underfunded programs and the monies raised at the MNM are crucial and needed funds. Your money will go a long way. My gratitude is endless. ❤

I’ve lost track of how many marathons there have been so far. I know only that every year I miss the marathon I regret it for the rest of the year and promise myself I will never miss another. Last year, which I missed, they raised $33,264. Over the course of the Marathon’s life, we have raised over $170,000.00 for the programs. Imagine that hole, had the marathon not been around to fill it! It’s staggering. So, yes, again…THANK YOU.

Now is when my focus begins to swing from collecting pledges to WHAT AM I GOING TO WRITE? I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE MY MARATHON BROTHERS & SISTERS! I MUST BE CRAZY?! THANK GOODNESS FOR THE VOLUNTEERS WHO MAKE SURE WE ALWAYS HAVE MEALS TO EAT AND COFFEE TO DRINK AND ENSURE THAT ALL WE HAVE TO DO FOR THE ENTIRE WEEKEND IS WRITE!! THANK GOODNESS FOR THE BADDIES WHO ALLOW THEMSELVES AN HOUR OR TWO TO ESCAPE AND WALK DOWNTOWN FOR SOME DOWN TIME AND SOCIALIZING AND WRITERLY TALK! It’s just all so crucial and important and lovely and irrelevant and necessary to who I am as a writer.

When I first attempted the Muskoka Novel Marathon I was almost crying going in, I was that scared. How is this thing EVEN POSSIBLE! During that marathon in 2007 I wrote SEBASTIAN’S POET in 48hrs (I chose the 48hr option that year over the 72hr option because I couldn’t imagine pulling off the whole thing!) You know, I listened to Leonard Cohen’s ANTHEM on repeat for that entire novel. I had transcended space and time while writing Sebastian’s story, had modeled the ‘poet’–who is actually a folksinger–after Cohen himself. I went to a place far away in my head and the story revealed itself like stars in a night sky. What I thought would be a struggle became a struggle after-all. Although I believed the struggle would be in finding something to write about, the actual struggle became making my fingers move as fast as my mind was delivering the story to me. I WAS HOOKED. It turns out the best way I write novels is in one sitting.

And THAT is why I am SO SUPER EXCITED FOR FRIDAY TO COME! Here I go again. My 10th MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON!!! Wish me luck, wish the fundraising efforts luck, wish the newbie marathoners luck…at 8pm on Friday night a bell will toll. We will not ask for whom it tolls…it will toll for 40 of the luckiest writers in the world. We are lucky because we have each other, we have time, we have place, we have words, and we have coffee. Let the wording begin!

I would not refuse any further donations and I would be forever in your debt. I still believe that as a community, we can help to eliminate illiteracy. KEVIN CRAIG SPONSOR LINK

My latest novel PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE was also written at the Muskoka Novel Marathon. (-:

Orlando at Soulpepper Theatre with a Book Club Tie-In!

After taking in the amazing production of La Bete at Soulpepper Theatre this past spring, I’ve been keeping my eye on their schedule for new shows. Turns out, they found a way to mash two of my favourite things–Theatre and Books. When I saw that they’re putting on a production of Virginia Woolf’s ORLANDO, I was excited. Then I discovered they’re also running a book club for those who want to read the book ahead of the show. How awesome is that!

Dfa4o9NWAAEwhTp.jpg large.jpg

Readers can participate in online book club discussion as they read ORLANDO pre-show. AND on certain performance nights there will be post-show talkback with other book-lovers.

We’ll be taking in one of these shows ourselves. I’m re-reading the book right now to familiarize myself with it. There’s still LOTS of time to do so, if you pick it up right now.

As you read, you can use the #Soulpepperbookclub hashtag to discuss the book with other readers. And it’s quite the book. If you’re not familiar with Orlando, it’s about a poet who lives for centuries and changes sex from man to woman and meets key figures of English literary history along the way. It’s considered a feminist classic, and is often the topic of gender and transgender studies. Pick it up today and read it ahead of the production!

orlando.jpg

If you’re a book geek slash theatre geek like we are, this will be right up your alley. After you click on the BUY TICKETS button, don’t forget to use the code BOOKCLUB for entry to the show and post-show discussion group. HERE’S THE LINK:

OH! Also, the book is super cheap at Amazon. Less than $2. I had to buy a Kindle copy, since I long ago lost contact with my paperback. I grabbed THIS VERSION HERE FOR $0.99 for my Kindle. If you DO read along, come to twitter to chat about it using the #soulpepperbookclub tag. I believe the play itself has a hashtag too… #spOrlando

See you there! Psssssst…we’ll be at Friday’s performance if you’d care to join us. Now I have to go do some reading…

First Chapter Feedback! One Last Push – Muskoka Novel Marathon…

Hello Readers! Isn’t it nice to read? I mean, seriously. We are SO lucky! Not everybody shares in our abundant gift. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. In fact, two out of every five Canadians struggles with basic reading and writing. It affects their jobs, their health and their family. The 40 writers who take part in the MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON every year collect sponsorship funds much like those who take part in foot marathons for cancer and the like, such as the Terry Fox Run. Our sponsorship money goes directly to YMCA Muskoka Literacy Services (part of YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka) and help keep the doors open to those in the community that want to overcome literacy challenges for a better life. 100% of what we collect goes to the organization. To find out how they use the funds, you can read about it HERE ON THE MNM website.

Now, let’s get to that FIRST CHAPTER FEEDBACK I mentioned in the title. This is what I will be offering to anyone who sponsors me $20 or more for the 2018 Muskoka Novel Marathon. And as previously mentioned, any donations of $50 or more gives you the gift of a free copy of my latest novel PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE (which, incidentally, was written at an MNM marathon!). For FCF, I will read your first chapter and offer feedback and editorial suggestions.

mnm4

One of the many beautiful corners one can seek out for some quiet writing time at the Muskoka Novel Marathon in Huntsville, Ontario.

The marathon is in less than a month now. It begins Friday July 13th at 8:00pm and lasts for 72 hours. That’s 40 writers in one room, each attempting to write a complete novel before 8:00pm Monday July 16th. This experience is an extremely beautiful thing for writers. It doesn’t hurt that we raise over $30,000.00 a year to keep those wonderful literacy programs in the community running. With your generous help, we are fortunate enough to call ourselves WRITERS HELPING READERS. You’re the key factor to making that statement real. Any amount helps. ANY AMOUNT. Please consider donating to the cause. It’s an important one to us.

13592758_10153616720612021_7220605044950658192_n

This will be my 10th novel writing marathon. I look forward to the magical writerly event every year! Wish me luck. (-:

Here is my personal DONATION PAGE where you can send sponsorship online.

Thank you!

 

Walk it, Write it, Walk it, Write it

I’m famous for insisting I’m a pantser, but is that really true? How honest are any of us being when we say we fly by the seat of our pants rather than plot our stories?

I guess it depends on your definition of plotting. Does pen need to touch paper for it to be considered plotting? Do your fingers have to tap away at a keyboard for it to be considered plotting? If you need to see physical results of plotting before you call it plotting, then I am indeed a pantser.

But the things that go through my head when I’m hiking, or walking down the street, or walking the treadmill like an automaton! This is where I build my story. Like Kris Kringle in Santa Claus is Coming to Town, I put one foot in front of the other. Unlike Kris Kringle, I’m not only getting myself across the floor and out the door…I’m also moving forward in story, plotting where I’m going to take my characters, what big and little things are going to come to them.

“Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the flo-or-or. Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door…” ~ Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle – Santa Claus is Coming to Town, 1970 Rankin/Bass Productions.

I may not call it plotting, and I may insist I don’t plot…but I do. I work it out in my head. I come up with plans and conjure scenes. It’s true that I don’t always stick to what I come up with. Since I don’t write them down, I don’t remain rigid to my ideas. They’re more watercolor possibilities of what the final draft may eventually look like. Sometimes the ideas I have in this non-plotting plotting stage are nothing like what comes to pass, but bandying around the ideas and seeing my characters in all these different scenarios in my head help me to figure out who they are and what they want. Yeah, what finally makes it to the page is not plotted out…but it’s definitely lived in. I endlessly go through the neighborhoods of my stories and move the furniture and the houses and the cars and the people around. Eventually, the story comes out the way it wants to come out. It certainly resembles the musings I had while walking…but it’s still a distant cousin. That’s why I still insist to being a pantser. I didn’t write it down.

mnmweekend1

Dale & Sue Long’s Happy Place, where some of the Muskoka Novel Marathoners stayed in September 2016 for the MNM Wrap Party.

I’ve been walking a lot lately, and chewing on the story ideas I have for my 2018 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel. It’s fast approaching. I’m preparing to once again spend 72 hours at the laptop pounding out an entire novel in one sitting. It never gets less scary. It never feels like something I’m capable of. It never stops being completely and unspeakably exciting and terrifying. And even though I’m living inside multiple story possibilities in my head in these weeks leading up to the marathon, because I haven’t committed anything to paper or screen…I can go in there and say, “I have NOTHING prepared!” But as I walk, I write. And as I write, I walk. Every step is another possibility. Every footfall is a plot hole or a character flaw. I have never felt the connection between walking and writing more than I feel it in the days leading up to this yearly marathon. Ironically, it’s a marathon where feet are not needed. But it’s a long grueling ‘run’ to the finish line, all the same!

mnm9

With Lori Manson at the 2016 Muskoka Novel Marathon wrap-up party. Lori won Best Young Adult Novel and I won for Best Adult Novel.

Check out what the marathon is all about HERE

If you feel inspired, I’m always happy to accept donations. Each of the 40 writers collect sponsorships for the marathon. Here’s my writer bio page on the MNM site–it contains a link to my donation page.

While you’re here, HAPPY PRIDE…however you celebrate!

You can pick up my 2015 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE where books are sold. Here’s the link to PRIDE on AMAZON.

wp-image-109302426

%d bloggers like this: