2012 Ontario Writers’ Conference – A World of Possibilities!

Tears are a good indication that, as a team, you are doing something right. When I first saw one of the 2010 Ontario Writers’ Conference registrants coming up from her Blue Pencil Mentor Session with a pool of un-fallen tears collecting in the corners of her eyes, I was a bit hesitant to ask her what was wrong. And then her face bloomed into one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. When she tried to speak, her breath caught in her throat. She was too happy to form an intelligent sentence.

 

When she was finally able to communicate to me what was on her mind, I felt another pang of justification for the long hours of planning we put into the conference every year. Her session was with an agent and the agent had asked her to send her manuscript in when it was completed!

 

And in 2011, I caught a moment of sheer exhilaration as Wayson Choy’s lecture let out. The crowd was silly with childish glee. And there were butterflies everywhere. When Wayson does something, he does it big! I couldn’t count the butterflies and I couldn’t count the smiles. Origami had taken over at the 2011 Ontario Writers’ Conference. (-: It was a sight to behold. And I beamed…because I pictured all those writers going home to their keyboards, setting their origami butterflies in a place of honour…and typing away with a newfound exuberance for the words they create.

 

That’s what we do this for…to hear success stories from writers who brave the nervous uncertainty of surrounding themselves with industry professionals for the opportunity to make positive changes in their paths to publication. To see the creativity of writers blossom into something bigger than it was when they arrived at the doors in the morning, eager to begin their day.

 

Every year as we committee members are running around making sure everything is moving as smoothly as possible, we come into contact with writers in the midst of a joyous moment…of discovery, truth, solidarity, success, enlightenment or recognition. Doesn’t matter what it is. If we see that glint on a passing face, the pool of tears collecting in wide-open unblinking eyes…well, we know. We know that the whole year of planning was worth the effort. That’s why we do what we do…as volunteers for a not-for-profit organization, our payback is in knowing that what we gathered together on the conference day has touched the life of a writer.

 

If you see one of the conference organizers walking around on the day of the conference with a beaming glow on their face, you’ll know they just stumbled across a registrant in the midst of an aha moment of bliss. Their success is our success! We’ll never get tired of seeing the fruits of our labour!

 

Wayson Choy – Honorary Patron of the Ontario Writers’ Conference

 

So when you come to the 2012 conference on May 5th, come with an open heart and mind. Come with bubbling potential. Come with hope and nervous wonder and a willingness to believe in the miraculous. We know we’re not going to change the world in any major way…but we certainly hope to bring a little change to your world.

 …word by word

 Visit the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE YouTube Station – We have a large selection of previous speakers to view at our dedication YouTube channel.

Visit the Ontario Writers’ Conference website to find out about the 2012 conference! We hope to see you there!

 The 2012 Ontario Writers’ Conference takes place on Saturday May 5th at Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Facility in Ajax, Ontario…just minutes from downtown Toronto. All registrants receive FREE entry to the Friday evening FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS. If you cannot make it to the conference, you can still come out Friday evening to the Festival of Authors (Tickets- $20).

Fat Superhero, NaNo, Whispered Words, GoodReads, etc…

As November draws to a close, I have several things to mention all at once.

The first is NaNoWriMo. I went off the rails on this one, but I do have the beginning of a novel that I am REALLY excited about. Fat Superhero, a young adult novel about an overweight loser who lives a second life in his head-the life of a superhero–started off with a bang. But with things in my life right now being what they are, I am finding that I don’t have the concentration needed to write. So NaNo kind of fizzled out. BUT I know that I will be able to continue on with this story. It’s percolating, and I’m feeling good about it. So I don’t worry about it’s death. The Fat Superhero will rise again. Soon.

Looking for a cool writing contest? Whispered Words, the WCDR Prose Contest, gives feedback to every entry. And the top entries make it to an anthology. It’s really worth it. The 1st Place prize is $1,000.00 too! All the information you need to know can be found here: WCDR WHISPERED WORDS PROSE and COVER ART CONTEST

Speaking of the WCDR, one of my favourite CANADIAN authors is the guest speaker for the Saturday December 10th WCDR Breakfast Meeting! The incomparable WAYSON CHOY will be speaking at the December brekkie! (Click the link in his name to discover more about him) Registration for the event will be open soon. It takes place at the Ajax Convention Centre, which is about 10 minutes east of Toronto…worth the drive!

GoodReads – There’s currently a Goodreads Giveaway for 2 copies of my contemporary young adult novel SUMMER ON FIRE. It runs until December 1st and there are 2 copies up for grabs. Open to USA and CANADA only. You can enter to win here: SUMMER ON FIRE GIVEAWAY!

Back Cover Blurb: Zach Carson is a loyal friend. But is loyalty enough to keep best friends together when one of them sets fire to the rural barn they use as the local hangout? Zach, Jeff Barsell and Arnie Wilson struggle to pick up the pieces when news spreads that a body was discovered in the burnt out shell of the neighbouring home. When the word murder is used by the local police, the stakes grow even higher. When the police start searching for their most likely suspect-none other than Jeff’s older brother, and nemesis, Marty Barsell-the boys decide to join forces and come up with a way to prove his innocence. But just how innocent is Marty Barsell? When Marty admits to being at the scene of the crime, the three friends enlist the help of Zach’s annoying sister, Sherry, as well as the sympathetic town eccentric, Ms. Halverton. But can they keep it together long enough to save Marty, and themselves, from imminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.

What’s up with some of my other titles:

Sebastian’s Poet – I can’t wait to start edits on this one. It’s my favourite novel of all the ones I have in the hopper. It’s release date is April, 2012…through Musa Publishing. Can’t wait to see what comes of it after all the edits are done. This one won the Best Adult Novel Award in the 2007 Muskoka Novel Award Contest.

Half Dead & Fully Broken – I thought this one was my best work. It’s with my agent right now, but hasn’t had the success I’ve been hoping for as of yet. I really thought I nailed the YA voice with this one. I’ll have to wait and see if I’m right. I still have hope! This one won the Best Young Adult Novel Award in the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon Contest.

That’s Me in the Corner – This is still half a novel. It won this year’s Best Young Adult Novel Award in the Muskoka Novel Marathon Contest…but I still haven’t gotten around to finishing it. I’ve received some great feedback, though. So as soon as my dryspell is over, I will be tackling this one along with Fat Superhero. I like writing more than one novel at once. Something about switching from one world to the next keeps it interesting for me.

The Reasons – I am in the process of making this one bigger. I noticed some places where I could have gone into greater detail but didn’t. I want to eventually submit it to Summer On Fire’s publisher, MuseItUp Publishing. It won Best Adult Novel Award in the 2008 Muskoka Novel Marathon Contest. It’s a family drama with two POVs, that of the son and that of the mother. I feel it can go somewhere if I can just get the word count up.

 

A Leonard Cohen Kind of Day…

Back in the old days (2007-2008) I had a blog called Wandering Mind. It was mostly poetry I posted there, but I also posted random stuff like the music I like, novel excerpts, articles, etc. Once it hit 30,000 hits, I took it offline. I figured that was enough views of my bad poetry. (-;

 

This post is a compilation of a few posts I did over at Wandering Mind on Leonard Cohen. In 2008 I took my daughter to a Cohen concert…we both worship in theChurchofCohen(much to the chagrin of the rest of the family!).

 

I was just remembering that concert this morning while listening to some Cohen. So, I decided I would post the following here:

 

Leonard Cohen is in Toronto

There’s a monster poet in town,
a laureate linguist, circus clown.
You can hear his heartbeat
in the city’s newfound heat,
the strum of bellows
in his liquid lungs, in flex.
I’ll take communion
within the milky thighs
of his every waking word,
take refuge in the spring
he calls to life
with his fervent golden voice.
There’s a God of light in town,
an ancient thread to beauty gone.
You can see his glow
above the night,
lift your hands into the bright,
and with nothing on your tongue
but a cold and broken hallelujah.

 

 

The following poem is based on an incident mentioned in a Leonard Cohen bio. I loved the idea of these 2 poets hurtling through space on the Trans-Canada, forgetting everything but the words they shared. Leave it to poets to forget to mind a gas gauge… twice!

 

The Farmer’s Wife

(A retelling of an incident in the lives of Leonard Cohen and Irving Layton)

 

The farmer’s wife,

perhaps with a hint of a smile

on her wind-hardened face,

traces her willowy hands

through the work-stained apron

that covers her solid frame.

She has but one word

for the marauding poets,

stranded by the highway, laughing.

consecutive trips find them wanting…

what with opening the cosmos

with their wakening words,

they drove on in the midnight dark,

not stopping for the needed fuel

that would bring them to their now-forgotten destiny.

Running a hand across her weary brow,

she sighs,

looks to a sky not yet bruised

to the plum of dawn.

“Poets!” she exclaims

with a weariness bred of morning labour.

She walks away from the door,

leavingLaytonto lean on its splintery frame,

while Cohen, sitting still in the dew

of his wakening mind, titters,

unable to believe the fortune

of landing, yet again,

on this kind woman’s porch.

Poets traveling onward of a night

can never be trusted

to find their distant shore…

but a beacon in dust,

a work-weary Mother of men,

they will trip upon lightly,

She, a harvest of needful things,

brought forth by the patron saint

resurrected to protect

the flighty of mind,

the absent men of omnipotent vision,

and masters of words un-spun.

 

 

Leonard Cohen – June 8th, 2008 inToronto – A Night of Intense Prayer

 

I’m still high from the concert last night. I have been beating my head against a wall trying to come up with the right words to describe the experience. And I’m a writer. I work with words on a daily basis. I look around me at these word bricks and none are bright enough… none are majestic enough… none will do. These bricks are blasé. They just will not capture the essence of the experience no matter how I rearrange them and sort through them for prettier ones that may be trapped at the bottom of the pile. It’s sad when that happens– when you have so much you want to say and you can’t find the words to say it. A friend asked me today what it was like. In my frustration I blurted out, “It’s like being in Church on the very day that God shows up!”

 

Beautiful is a generic word… it’s used so often it has kind of lost most of its meaning. I wanted to say the concert was beautiful, but it wasn’t enough.

 

What I saw: 10 year-olds and 90 year-olds. Suits, evening gowns, shorts and tank tops. Sweats and jeans and mops and raven-twisted beauty parlor miracles. Bald heads, aged heads, liver spots and creamy complexions of eternal youth. Leonard Cohen is a man for all of these people. He is a maestro for the ages. It’s a strange thing to go to a concert where children run with the ancient. But it is a beautiful thing (there’s that impotent word again).

 

What I heard: Dance Me to the End of Love, The Future, Ain’t no Cure for Love, Bird On a Wire, Everybody Knows, In My Secret Life, Who By Fire, Anthem, Tower of Song, Suzanne, Gypsy Wife, Boogie Street, Hallelujah, Democracy, I’m your Man, A Thousand Kisses Deep, Take This Waltz, Waiting for the Miracle, First We Take Manhattan, That don’t Make it Junk, If it be Your Will, Closing Time, I Tried to Leave You, and last but not least a prayer for leaving, Wither Thou Goest.

 

What I experienced: Total Inner Peace.

 

The audience… that’s the most unique thing about a Leonard Cohen concert, besides the man himself. There is a love emanating from every person present… too much love. More than they know what to do with. And there is Leonard on the stage receiving it all… appreciative of it all and sending it back in folds uncountable.

 

I remember being 8 and 9 years old (that was over 30 years ago now), listening to Cohen albums on my turntable and losing myself in his language–in his words. I was able to do that last night while he performed his 3rdTorontosell-out performance. I was lost in his golden voice, in the music, in the applause and prayers of the audience. It is a concert I will never forget.

 

Thank you, Leonard.

 

 

How to Walk a Beauty Queen…

My Beauty Queen with her Toy on her Head

Yesterday I read of another frustrated dog walker on Twitter. I wanted to explain to her how to walk a dog so that the dog doesn’t pull, but I was frustrated by the lack of my ability to do so in 140 characters! (-:

So, I thought I would give it a shot here. It really is extremely easy to take control and have an enjoyable walk with your beauty queen (or king). And, no, it is not done by strong-arming or getting angry or abusive with them.

The one thing a dog wants in life (besides the ability to give and receive unconditional love) is to know where they stand in the pack. A dog that doesn’t know their position is a dog in turmoil. They worry and fret and think, ‘well, nobody is stepping up…I guess I have to!’ But they really don’t want to. Therein lies the problem. The turmoil they experience makes them do silly things. Like pulling their friends down the street. They think, ‘Okay. I’ll do this. I’ll take control. But I don’t know where I’m going. I’m freaking out, man!’ So, they pull. Sometimes in multiple directions. They are well and truly freaking out. Their mind is not calm and quiet, like it should be. They are unhappy and fretful.

How do we change this? How do we walk our beauty queens and kings?

How about a point form explanation that works for me. I’m sure there’s more than one way to do everything. So, I’ll just call this my way. But I know that most would agree with me that it is THE way.

1. The walk begins INSIDE the home. Yes it does. If you want to learn how to do this right, don’t argue with me on my first point! Your acceptance of your role-and your dog’s acceptance of you in that role-begins at the front door. Make your dog sit still at the front door. You are between your dog and the front door. Put his/her collar and leash on. Now…in your usual role, what would happen next? Would you open the door and allow your dog to walk outside? If you answered yes, you’re already sending the unhappy message that you expect your dog to be the leader. Enter the anxiety for your dog. What you do is take the lead. You step out of the house first, then allow your dog to come out behind you. It’s important that you take the first step out the door. They may not like it, at first. They may try to beat you to the outside. They may be desperate to get their first…but it’s not really what they want. They want to relinquish the lead to you. It’s your job to show them that it’s okay for them to do so.

2. So, now your on the front porch with your dog. What do you do next? Please don’t say, “shoot the starter’s pistol and try to keep up with the galloping dog way out ahead of me at the end of their leash.” That would be wrong. The next thing you do is STAND STRAIGHT. STAND AS IF YOU OWN THE WORLD. Show your dog that you are confident and strong and ready to take on the world. Stand slightly ahead of your dog. Head up…chin proud. Shoulders straight—un-slumped! You are the emperor/empress of the world. Of your world. Be ready to speak clear and firm and with strength. (Don’t show weakness)

3. Now, you’re on your front porch. You are standing straight and tall. Your dog is slightly behind you…at your side. Don’t be surprised if, at this point, they are looking you in bewildered bemusement. Seriously, they are probably thinking, ‘just what is she getting at? She’s not confident…I can see right through her. I’m going to have to run this show again!’ But NO…you stand your ground. Don’t let those puppy dog eyes fool you. You get ready to start walking. You allow slack in the lead. You’re facing the direction you’re going to take and your dog is waiting for the next step. You take a step. And another and another. IF your dog tries to step out in front of you, you step in front of them…you block them. No force is needed…no yelling. You simply step out in front of them…let them know they have to walk right at your side and slightly behind you. Watch their nose…make sure IT doesn’t take the lead.

4. Okay. You’ve taken a few steps. You’ve been standing arrow straight, chin up…you own the world. The dog will try for a couple of minutes to retake their spot in the lead…but that is only because they’re not quite sure they can trust you to own that spot. You keep stepping out in front of them, blocking them from taking over. They will look sad, despondent. Like they want to lie down and cry. This is them going through the letting go. You might at this point think they look too sad. You’ll think, ‘but they’re not happy now’. Don’t give in. Allow them to get past this part of the walk. Once they realize that they can trust you to be the leader, they will calm down and walk beside you and you’ll never believe they were ever a dog who pulled.

I know it sounds too simple to be true. But I’ve seen die-hard disappointed dog-walkers get from the pulling stage to the walking calmly beside them stage in 2 minutes or less. It’s turning a switch on your dog that they desperately want you to turn.

1. You walk outside first.

2. You ‘allow’ your dog to follow you through the threshold.

3. You own your body, your position, your world. Head up, shoulders straight, calm and confident.

4. Keep your dog slightly behind you and at your side.

5. Walk. Step in front of them, block, block, block if they try to get the lead.

6. Sad looks. “What are you doing to me!?”

7. Calm. Relief. “You’re going to do this. You can lead. YAY! I can just walk happily beside you!”

Just remember to keep blocking them. They will eventually give up and the switch will flick and they will be walking beside you, happy.

8. Keep your position when the walk is over. Make your dog sit down at the door. YOU GO THROUGH THE THRESHOLD FIRST. It is YOUR threshold. Then, allow the dog to come through behind you. (I usually sweep my hand in a welcoming gesture at this point. Then I get her to sit while I remove her leash.) My Franny knows that she is a follower. I’m not mean to her, bossy, pushy, etc. She wants that position. She would prefer to take the backseat. They only get anxious when they are giving the role of leader. They don’t know where to go, so they simply pull. It’s confusion in action. Take control, but be kind and gentle. Be calm and assertive.

 

FOR: @shanynlee and others who love their dogs and wish to take them on a happy stroll.

Half Dead & Fully Broken – A YA Contemporary Novel with Paranormal Undertones

In July 2010 I wrote a YA novel for the 72 hour Muskoka Novel Marathon. That novel was HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN. It’s, for the most part, contemporary. BUT…there is a dead guy in it. (-:

The novel won the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon’s BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD.

The brief description below, I’m posting for a friend. Another writer with a TWIN manuscript in the works. (-;

(This is not the finished copy of the synopsis…just the closest one at hand.)

 

Brief Synopsis – Half Dead and Fully Broken

 

Carter Colby is the most unpopular teen at Trudeau High. This would be easier to deal with if his identical twin brother, Marcus, weren’t the most popular boy in school. Sharing a face with Mr. I-can-do-anything-better-than-you, Mr. Helpful, Mr. Reliable, Mr. Freaking Wonderful—it’s not as easy as it sounds. When Marcus is killed in a motorcycle accident, Carter discovers there are things even harder to deal with than trying to compete with Mr. Wonderful…and that’s sharing a face with him. Nobody wants to see Carter now that he’s walking around with Marcus’s face. He felt invisible before the accident, but with Marcus dead he sees everybody turn away from him in mourning. But how can he blame them, he can’t even bear to look at himself anymore.

But Marcus has a plan. Even dead, he’s still up for saving the world and spreading happiness. Carter begins to see Marcus’s ghost and Marcus has a few magic tricks up his sleeve to share with his brother. But there’s a reason for his presence. Marcus knows that Justin Dewar, the boy who drove the truck that crashed into his motorbike when Marcus ran a red light, is struggling with the guilt of taking a life. Marcus’s plan is to put everything right before it’s too late and all is lost. But he needs Carter to help him…he needs to use Carter’s body to bring his plan into action.

With Marcus’s help, Carter experiences love and friendship for the first time in his life. Marcus, even in death, has the power to do the right thing. He brings Carter together with Melanie, Marcus’s girlfriend, and Justin. The three are broken, but with Marcus’s help they may just be saved. It’s a race to save the distraught Justin, though. With Marcus’s help, Carter and Melanie set out to do just that. And along the journey to saving Justin, they can even inadvertently save themselves.

Preparing for Montreal Book Signing – MuseItYoung – Nov 5

Just getting ready to print flyers for the table at my book-signing in Montreal this coming Saturday. There will be a slew of MuseItUp Publishing authors on hand at Zellers in Pointe Claire…for most of the afternoon. Should be a great event!

 

SUMMER ON FIRE by KEVIN CRAIG

Zach Carson is a loyal friend. But is loyalty enough to keep best friends together when one of them sets fire to the rural barn they use as the local hangout? Zach, Jeff Barsell and Arnie Wilson struggle to pick up the pieces when news spreads that a body was discovered in the burnt out shell of the neighbouring home. When the word murder is used by the local police, the stakes grow even higher. When the police start searching for their most likely suspect—none other than Jeff’s older brother, and nemesis, Marty Barsell—the boys decide to join forces and come up with a way to prove his innocence. But just how innocent is Marty Barsell? When Marty admits to being at the scene of the crime, the three friends enlist the help of Zach’s annoying sister, Sherry, as well as the sympathetic town eccentric, Ms. Halverton. But can they keep it together long enough to save Marty, and themselves, from imminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.

“This book was absolutely fantastic. I can already see that this will be making the round among family and friends. I would highly recommend this book. I am confident you won’t be disappointed.”

“Couldn’t put this one down. I was immediately captured by the three boys & the crisis that threatened to rip apart their friendship.”

“Kevin does an amazing job of telling a story where heart, loyalty and courage are at war with one another.”

“A delightful read…hopefully we will see more from Mr. Craig.”

“This is beautifully written…I loved every word of the book.”

“What a great read! I’ll be recommending this to both my teenage children! Great job…I can’t wait to read the next one.”

AVAILABLE at     ZELLERS

www.museituppublishing.com

CHAPTERS/INDIGO       BARNES & NOBLE        AMAZON

www.kevintcraig.com                            www.kevintcraig.wordpress.com

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane… (NaNoNaNo)

NaNoWriMo is in FULL swing. Somewhere out there are between 100,000 and 200,000 writers, writing. Maybe more? I just pulled that number out of my head. Can you feel the brainwaves as they grab on to those gently floating words and put them down on the page/screen? I can. It’s never a better time to write than when you know there are so many others sharing in the process. And guess what? We’re not fighting for those words. We’re not stabbing each other inside a cauldron of Alphabet Soup, fighting over the very limited number of alphabets floating in the abyss. There’s enough for everyone. It’s an unlimited supply!

Remember to support your fellow NaNoWriMo-ers this year (or is it NaNo-ers?). That’s a part of what it’s all about…offering encouragement when it’s needed and hope where there is none. Writers are a very supportive group of people. Always there to pat each other on the back, to say, “Hey, you’re doing a great job. Keep it up!” That’s most important when we take on a task as a community. So don’t forget to encourage. It will come back to you 10-fold.

Oh, and as far as the title of this blogpost goes, it has a bit to do with my 2011 NaNoWriMo project, actually. Here’s the idea floating around in my head so far. It could take a very different turn and end up being something completely different. But at the moment, this is it:

Young Adult Novel – FAT SUPERHERO – Carver is a grade ten student who sees himself as a superhero, but only in his head. He has all the right moves, knows all the right things to say, saves all the losers from fates worse than death. Basically, he’s able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. BUT only in his head. On the outside, Carver is pushing 300lbs. He’s a member of the Puke Brigade (PB), a group of losers who were given free admission to the Brigade in grade school by the Wendys. The Wendys are the two most popular girls in high school. They’re as mean as they are popular. Once they relegate you to the PB, you’re there for life. But Moira, Carver’s fellow Puke Brigader, has an idea. Her crater face will probably clear up by college. And maybe she can get herself a new wardrobe that doesn’t scream, “Puke Brigade!” So she’s covered. Her mission— Get Carver Skinny by College.

So, there is my idea. I have close to 4,000 words so far. Trying to get extra done this week as I’ll be in Montreal all weekend with my publisher—book signing and sightseeing. I won’t have time or inclination to write.

I’m going to have fun inside Carver’s head, though. There will be some awesome Superhero activity playing out in the story. I don’t know if he will eventually get powers on the outside, but on the inside he’s gonna have a lot of cool powers going on. Or so that is the plan. Who knows with NaNo…it goes where IT wants to go. The NaNo-er is just the driver. The words are the machine in November…the navigator. In the heat of the writing, anything can happen!

ENJOY your writing…wherever it takes you this NaNoWriMo season. Have FUN!