Shanghai Saturday!

We arrived back in Shanghai today. An absolutely full and exhausting day.

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It began with a tour of a tea plantation. We had green tea after a tea ceremony and enjoyed the beautiful hillsides where the tea grew…

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We also watched a man hand-drying tea…

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From there we hit a famous marketplace in Shanghai that had a garden attached to it…

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Lots of little stores with souvenirs…

Friday in China…

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So much happening, it’s hard to keep track. Today, we toured a pearl factory.

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And then took a three hour bus ride to our current city. 8 million strong. We are staying in the heart of Hangzhou.

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Went for a cruise on beautiful West Lake!

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And later enjoyed a ‘show’ that was more a collaboration of random events..

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But ultimately a lot of fun.

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And later still… We were able to walk around downtown outside the hotel!

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Onward ho! Shanghai, here we come!

Wuxi, China…

Just a few picks of our Thursday in China…

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This Buddha was stunning. It stands 88 metres high. Inside the base is a beautiful shrine filled with thousands of foot high Buddhas, a museum with different Buddhist statues and a souvenir shop.

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Wuxi (pronounced Wooshie) is another city of beautiful canals. The circle on the top of the building is a Starbucks sign. (-:

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Wuxi is a small city of only 3 million. In the downtown core there is a protected area of older houses that now serves as a shopping street. It’s beautiful… filled with lanterns, discos, restaurants and lights. With a canal running parallel behind one side. Between the houses were beautiful canal views, each worthy of its own picture…

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Friday! Today, a pearl factory and then a three hour bus drive to the next city…

I’m Not Writing in China…

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I have been far too amazed to even think about writing this week. China is far more beautiful than I ever imagined it to be.

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Today we did Suzhou, which is known as the Venice of the East. It has beautiful canals… One of which we travelled down. Absolutely breathtaking.

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Yesterday, the famous square in Beijing where a single man had a standoff with a tank.

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The Forbidden City, that went on and on and on and on…

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And on…

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And on…

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Driving through Beijing gave me the feeling that everywhere was downtown. It was like Toronto’s downtown core times 10,000.

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We made a quick stop to see the famous Bird’s Nest from the Beijing Olympics.

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And spring is happening in this beautiful country! Magnolias!

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The Summer Palace in Beijing…

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Leaving Beijing yesterday for Shanghai…

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Summer Palace

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We walked the Great Wall for a bit. This tiny hill, we had to keep stopping to catch our breath. So much harder than it looks!

I’m cultivating again. Too much beauty to write. Writers are always busy writing, even when we have no pen, no keyboard, no paper, no screen!

I LOVE this country! On to more new and exciting adventures!!!

Leaving Driftwood Manor – A 10-Minute Trafalgar 24 Play…

This is the 10-Minute Play I wrote for the 2015 Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival – a fundraiser put on by DRIFTWOOD THEATRE.

Leaving Driftwood Manor was written on Thursday March 6th – and performed 6 times in front of a rotating audience of approximately 300 people on Friday March 7th. It was performed at Trafalgar Castle, in Whitby, Ontario.

This play is copyright protected. It can be used royalty free, with prior written permission. please contact me at kevintcraig @ hotmail.com

TITLE: LEAVING DRIFTWOOD MANOR

©2015

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TITLE: Leaving Driftwood Manor

SYNOPSIS: Emmett knows he would be happier if he could just leave his home behind him.

CHARACTERS:

EMMETT ROBERTSON (Written for Shane Patrick McClurg for Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24)
CARTER ROBERTSON (Written for Andy Pogson for Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24)

DESCRIPTION: Emmett Robertson is finished with his home life. He’s ready to leave it all behind. If only he could.

SETTING – COMMON ROOM in a mansion

EMMETT [Standing at fireplace. Frustrated]: Father, father, father. Why? After all these years, you still lurk? [Waits a couple beats] I know you’re there. Leave me alone. Once and for all.

CARTER [Comes out from behind the wall]: That seems harsh, Em. How could you say something so—

EMMETT: It’s Emmett. I’ve told you. Numerous times. Not Em.

CARTER: Why are you so intolerant of me, Emmett? Haven’t I always had your best interests at heart? Don’t I cater to your every whim?

EMMETT: I can’t do this anymore. I want to leave this place. I need out of Driftwood Manor. I feel trapped. Smothered.

CARTER: I know, I know. No longer the little boy who ran these halls terrorizing the staff. No longer the boy who went hysterical with joy at the sound of my voice. I know, Em. [Stops himself] Emmett. You don’t need me anymore. I read you loud and—

EMMETT: That’s not true. I’ll always need you. But I need to have my life. I need to leave this old house and all the memories trapped inside it. I feel like the house itself is eating me alive.

CARTER: You always loved Driftwood. You wanted everything that went with it. You used to practice saying your name like an aristocrat because of this house. Emmett Forbes Robertson the third. Never mind there was never a first or a second. Or that Forbes is something you picked up out of thin air because you thought it had a nice ring to it. You were the Lord of the manor.

EMMETT: That was before I realized there could be life beyond these walls. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” You used to quote that all the time, didn’t you? Well, I’m ready. To give up my childish ways.

CARTER: Am I one of those childish ways? Because, for me, there is no life beyond these walls. My God, Em. Why now?

EMMETT: It’s been ten years.

CARTER: No. That’s not possible. It couldn’t be.

EMMETT: You abandoned our family that day. Just like that. You can try to be the superhero father figure all you want. It will never change the outcome. You checked out. One day there, the next day gone.

CARTER: Emmett, please. I never once left your side. Haven’t I always been here for you? Haven’t I spoiled you your entire life?

EMMETT: It’s not the same. And you know it. You can’t leave this house. It wears you like… like you wear it. You’re one. And you’re trapping me here with you.

CARTER: Leave, then. If that’s what you need to do. Who am I to stop you?

EMMETT [Shakes his head. Discouraged]: You just don’t get it. You ruined my mother. Destroyed her life. All the good you do in the world will never change that fact. She’s destroyed. I want to get her out of here. I will find a way to get her to leave here.

CARTER: Em, you can’t. You must make her stay. We must convince her it’s the only way we can still be togeth—

EMMETT: No. Dad. It’s my decision. If you were really around—around all the time—you would know she’s incapable of making decisions. She’s practically incapable of getting out of bed in the morning.

CARTER: If she would just see me, it would be different.

EMMETT: She’s never going to see you. Don’t you get it? She’s done.

CARTER: What if I was the one to leave? Would that convince her to stay? Convince you it would be okay for her to stay?

EMMETT: We both know that won’t happen. That can’t happen.

CARTER: This house has been in our family for five generations. Driftwood Manor is part of who we are.

EMMETT: That’s the problem. It possesses us. But there’s life outside these walls. And, unlike you, I want to find it.

CARTER: I didn’t mean to, Emmett. I swear to God and all things holy and hellish. I did not mean for it to happen. If I could turn back time, I would. Oh God, Em. There are so many things I would do differently. Please believe me.

EMMETT: Dad, please. I don’t want to blame you. I know it wasn’t your fault. You can’t be held responsible for the outcome. But it’s still there. It’s as final now as it was then. I need to get her out.

CARTER: Please. Your mother loves this house.

EMMETT: My mother has been virtually catatonic for ten years. Ten years. You don’t know anything about her. You only have to listen, to hear her crying. She never stops.

CARTER: I know I love her. And I know that when we took over this house from your grandfather, we had the world in our grasp. Your mother was the happiest soul on earth. We had so many plans.

EMMETT: And every single one of those plans came to nothing. This house hasn’t changed a bit since you got your hands on it. Strike that. It’s fallen into ruin. It went from being the most beautiful home in the city, to being something Miss Havisham wouldn’t be caught dead in.

CARTER: Don’t say that. It’s still as beautiful as it was the day—

EMMETT: And speaking of Miss Havisham, that’s exactly who Mom has become. Only, her knight in shining armour actually married her. He gave her a son. He showed her happiness before he ripped it all away.

CARTER: Please, Em. You’re tearing my heart out. I can’t bear to hear these things.

EMMETT: You need to hear these things. You need to listen to her wails as they fill up the night. You gave her everything she could ever dream of and then you systematically tore it all away from her. There is nothing left of my mother.

CARTER: If I could take it all—

EMMETT: Back, you would. I know. I know. I know. But you can’t.

CARTER: If you get her out of this house, I won’t see her anymore. Is that what you want? If you get out… I won’t see you.

EMMETT: Maybe I shouldn’t see you anymore, father. Maybe neither of us should. Maybe it would be healthier for us if we didn’t.

CARTER: I couldn’t bear it.

EMMETT: It’s always about you, though, isn’t it? You can’t bear it. Maybe there are other people in the world who can’t bear things, father. Maybe my mother can’t bear it.

CARTER: I’m sorry, Em. I’m so sorry.

EMMETT: I want to get her out. I want to get myself out of here. Before I become—

CARTER: Me. I know. I know. Before you become me.

EMMETT: Yes. That much, you understand. I’d do it to save her. And to save myself. If I only knew how. Why?!

CARTER: With no regard for me, you would do it.

EMMETT: Don’t talk to me about regard. Don’t. Even. Attempt it.

CARTER: I would have done anything to prevent it. Anything.

EMMETT: And yet, you did nothing.

CARTER: You were so young.

EMMETT: I was.

CARTER: You still are. You talk as though you’re old now.

EMMETT: This house takes the best of what we are and it swallows it whole. I can’t let it take Mom down any further. I want her to have a chance before it’s too late. She’s going to wither away and die in this house.

CARTER [Looking off into space, ignoring Emmett]: If you can’t make your own beautiful son a paperweight and have him ground you to the earth like a string on a balloon, what else is there? I was desperate to be rescued. And you were so precious, Em. So precious. I thought having you in my life would somehow rescue me.

EMMETT: Dad, stop. I can’t hear anymore.

CARTER: You can’t want to take her away from me.

EMMETT: I never like telling you this next part. Because I love you so much. But you always forget it. You never want to hear it.

CARTER: I don’t know what you mean.

EMMETT: Yes you do. You put it out of your mind intentionally to stop the pain.

CARTER: I never meant for it to happen. If I could take it back, I would.

EMMETT: You took me with you, Daddy.

CARTER: No. Stop talking, Em. Please. Stop talking. I can’t bear to hear it.

EMMETT: I can’t bear it, either, Father.

CARTER: I don’t want to know.

EMMETT: But you have to. I don’t have a chance in hell of getting out of this house, and you know it. And neither do I have a hope in getting her to leave. As much as I’m desperate to get her out.

CARTER: The house will rescue us.

EMMETT: No, dammit. It didn’t rescue us then, and it sure as hell can’t rescue us now.

CARTER: Then you will let her stay?

EMMETT: Did you not just hear what I said? I can’t save her. And yet, can you hear her crying? She has no one. No one, Father!

CARTER: I can’t bear it.

EMMETT: In all the world. No one.

CARTER: She loved having all this. Us. Driftwood Manor. Her life. Her family.

EMMETT: And now she’s stuck with it. With only a house. With nobody to help her out of it. Trapped.

CARTER: No. I won’t hear it.

EMMETT: You know the truth, Dad. You lurk around corners waiting for me to talk to you. But you never hear what I have to tell you.

CARTER: We can all be happy again. We can save your mother together.

EMMETT: She is beyond being saved, Dad. You took away the only thing that mattered to her. The day you killed us, you sealed her fate.

CARTER: No, Em. No. I can’t bear it. No. It can’t be true. No.

EMMETT: And ours. [Exits.]

END PLAY

If you choose to use this play, please email me to let me know where you are in the world. (-:

If you’re in Ontario, don’t forget to check out Driftwood Theatre this summer in a park near you! They bring HAMLET to Ontario parks this year! Look for the Bard’s Bus! Click the image below to learn all the details!

Bard's Bus Tour does HAMLET!
Bard’s Bus Tour does HAMLET!

Another Muskoka Novel Marathon Awaits! 40 Writers, 72 Hours…what can happen?!

Last night was the official opening ceremonies to the 2015 MADNESS!

What madness might I be referring to, you may ask? Why, the madness that is the Muskoka Novel Marathon of course. It all begins with the frenetic and frantic March Registration. This is when writers camp out at their keyboards in eager anticipation of registering for the annual July novel writing marathon weekend. With only 40 spaces available, you’d be surprised how quickly they fill up. Take into account that anyone who raises funds of $1,000.00 or more during the fundraising for the previous year’s marathon gets an automatically secured spot, and you’re faced with even harder odds at securing a coveted spot. Say that 3 times fast! For a writer, I write a mean run-on sentence.

So, at 7pm last night, when registration opened, there were 35 spots up for grabs for writers brave enough to take on the challenge of writing a complete novel over the course of one long weekend in Muskoka in the height of summer. Are there even 35 people crazy enough to attempt this? No need to rush over to the site to register, right? Surely to God we could take our time throwing our names in the ring, no?

NO.

82At this point you may or may not be wondering at the significance of the number 82.

That’s the number of minutes that ticked away before the registration closed.

40 writers. 72 hours. 40 novels.

As someone somewhere once said about something, “IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG!”

Here’s where I beg and plead for your help.

Now, you already know that writers gather together for a long weekend and write themselves crazy in attempts to pen entire novels in 72hrs. BUT that’s not even the half of what this marathon is.

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 hope you clicked the ABOUT THE MARATHON link above to learn more.

Here’s where I ask if you would please consider sponsoring me for the marathon. For my part, I will attempt to write 50,000 words in 72hrs. For your part, please consider a donation to the cause. Any amount is appreciated. $2 or $100. It all counts. We, as writers, are dedicated to eradicating illiteracy. This is a cause dear to our hearts. Our love of written words compels us and propels us to help those who are terrified and intimidated by the same words. In simple language, the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka runs literacy programs for adults that are greatly underfunded by the government. They need a bridge between shortage of funds and need. They can’t do it without help.

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The Muskoka Novel Marathon IS that bridge. The writers who participate in the marathon ARE that bridge. And you, dear readers, are the wooden slats on the footpath in that bridge. Each contributor who backs this project essentially adds another slat to the bridge and gets us further across the funding divide.

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PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE consider a contribution. We cannot do this without you.

Click on the image below to go directly to my CANADA HELPS GIVING PAGE, where you can easily make a donation to the cause!

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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!

2015 Ontario Writers’ Conference – A Feast for Writers Everywhere!

I have been remiss. I have yet to plug Ontario’s premier writerly event of the year! The 2015 Ontario Writers’ Conference is FAST approaching. If you are a writer, this is an event you cannot afford to miss.

At one time I was fully involved with the conference. I was on the board of directors on its inception and lived and breathed the conference for almost eight years. I was extremely sad to leave the amazing organization. I became too busy, my life became too complicated. It was a number of things that took me away from the conference. My love of the conference was NOT one of them. I’ll always be a friend to the OWC. That’s why I feel badly for not having blogged about them once this year.

Here’s everything you will need to know about the Ontario Writers’ Conference.

The Incomparable Wayson Choy!
The Incomparable Wayson Choy!

I’ll start with WAYSON CHOY. The conference’s Honorary Patron since its inception, Wayson is a friend to writers everywhere. He’s been at every conference to date. Mayhaps you will spy him at this year’s conference. If you do…don’t be afraid to approach him and engage him in conversation. He’s a lovely man and he loves to talk to other writers. You might even say he puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us writers.

Now, for this year’s feast. Here’s what the conference is looking like, workshop and lecture series wise (Click on all the clickables below to discover more about each one)…

Friday April 24

Masterclasses –

1:00 – 4:00 pm (with 15 min. break)Master Classes
1. Rich Helms – Book Trailers 101
2. Molly Peacock – The Camera-Eye of the Sonnet
3. Richard Scarsbrook – Creative Writing Kick-Start for YA Authors

Festival of Authors – The Friday Evening Gala with Interviews and Readings!

7:00 – 10:00 pm – Readers, refreshments and revelry (open to the public!)

Discover the full Festival of Authors program here!

Saturday April 25 – The Conference proper! You get to pick one workshop/lecture in each of the three time-slots.

9:30 amConcurrent Workshops

1. Terry Fallis – Podcasting 101
2. Annette McLeod – Character is King
3. Allyson Latta – Punch It Up: Editing Tips for Tighter Prose
4. ADVANCED: Andrew Borkowski – Delicious Dialogue

The Lunch at the OWC has always been a wonderful event in and of itself. This year, I’m sure, will not be any different. The luncheon speaker? WOW! A Canadian icon!

11:30 am – Cornerstone Award, Lunch Speaker is the incomparable Linden MacIntyre

1:30 pmConcurrent Workshops

1. Craig Pyette – Breaking & Entering
2. Barbara Fradkin – Blood Money
3. Anne MacLachlan – Gather Your Tribe
4. ADVANCED: Gwynn Scheltema – Should Size Matter?

3:30 pmConcurrent Lecture Series

1. Karen Connelly – Writing as Witness
2. Charles Wilkins – The Storytelling Animal
3. Johanna Raisanen – Labour of Love
4. Ali McDonald – Six of One

4:45 pm  – Closing Speaker

So, there you have the rundown on the two-day event. I would hope that you are now about to RUN, not walk, to the OWC website to register. Don’t forget…this event is JUST OUTSIDE TORONTO. Torontonians would do well to remember that there is land east of Scarborough. The OWC takes place in Ajax, just east of Scarborough…and not far from the 401. There are directions to the venue on the OWC website. There is also hotel information, should you want to come from afar! And there have always been contingents from Ottawa, the U.S.A. and points onward. Like I said, it’s a MUST SEE event for writers. Do yourself–and your writing life–a favour. Register today!

Click on the image below to go directly to the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE website:

owcI may no longer be affiliated with this conference, but I will always support it and promote it as the best educational and networking event for writers in all of Ontario…probably in all of Canada.

See you there!

NET GALLEY – Download Half Dead & Fully Broken NOW! Trafalgar Approaches!

My publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, has uploaded HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN to Net Galley. Now that Burn Baby Burn Baby has been archived and is no longer available to reviewers on Net Galley, CQ has offered up Half Dead & Fully Broken on the review site for consideration.

cover2500I still love the cover for this one. My favourite colour is orange. (-: And the focus is on the title. Not the first cover rendered, but definitely my favourite. It’s a creation of Eugene Teplitsky’s. He’s not only an amazing cover designer (he is also responsible for the gorgeous Burn Baby Burn Baby cover), but he is also Managing Partner and CTO of Curiosity Quills Press. I have definitely been spoiled!

Here’s the cover blurb for HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN:

Carter Colby is the most unpopular teen at Jefferson High. This would be easier to deal with if his identical twin brother, Marcus, weren’t the hottest, most popular boy in school.

When Marcus is killed in a motorcycle accident, Carter discovers the one thing more painful than trying to compete with Mr. Wonderful: wearing his dead brother’s face. He felt invisible before the accident, but with Marcus dead, everybody turns away from him in mourning. How can he blame them? He can’t bear to look in the mirror.

When Carter begins to see Marcus’ ghost, Mr. Wonderful’s quest to save the world and spread happiness may not be over after all, even in death. Marcus knows that Justin Dewar, the boy who drove the truck that crashed into his motorbike, is struggling with the guilt of taking a life. Melanie, Marcus’ mourning girlfriend, was also hit hard by the tragedy. Marcus wants to make things right before it’s too late.

With Marcus’ help, Carter experiences love and friendship for the first time in his life. But is Mr. Wonderful’s helping hand enough for Carter, Melanie, and Justin – three kids fully broken by the tragedy – to save one another?

For those who take CQ up on their offer, please note that I am currently working on a Book #2 to the CARTER COLBY story. ALIVE & KICKING is almost completed. (-:

Click on the picture below to go directly to NET GALLEY to download the title. That’s correct…no need to click a REQUEST button this time around. You can DOWNLOAD this one right away:

Click this picture to be taken to Net Galley to download a review copy of HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN...
Click this picture to be taken to Net Galley to download a review copy of HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN…

Here’s HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN ON GOODREADS

Here’s HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN ON AMAZON

Half Dead is available wherever paperback or ebooks are sold!


While I have your attention, I wanted to make one more quick mention of TRAFALGAR 24…on this, my last full day of freedom prior to being locked inside the castle!

One of the beautiful sights the castle has to offer to a wandering playwright in the middle of the night...
One of the beautiful sights the castle has to offer to a wandering playwright in the middle of the night…

Tomorrow night will be a sleepless one for me. But being locked inside Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario, has its perks. It’s a beautiful thought-provoking space in which to pen a 10-minute play. I am filled with fear, doubt, anxiety, excitement, joy, wonder, intrigue…you name it. That time before heading to the castle is electric with possibility. I get to SPEND THE NIGHT in the castle. I get to manically write a play that will be performed less than 24 hours after the words are out. It’s such an amazing time…my favourite writing event of the year.

Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, as the sun comes up on a previous Trafalgar 24 all-night playwriting event! The playwrights, like elves, leave the castle at 6am...to make way for the actors and directors...
Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, as the sun comes up on a previous Trafalgar 24 all-night playwriting event! The playwrights, like elves, leave the castle at 6am…to make way for the actors and directors…

If you’re in the market for a fabulous Friday night, you should check out the ticket situation. But be quick…this event sells out every year. Click on the picture below to be taken to the Driftwood Theatre website to buy tickets:

Trafalgar-24-header-2015-wide-fb-759x280Enjoy HALF DEAD!