Thanks to the Andrea Brown Literacy Agency we now have a date on the calendar to celebrate the brick and mortar bookstore. This is not to say we should not celebrate our wonderful local bookstores every day…but to have a special day to acknowledge your favourite bookstore…that is every book geek’s biggest dream! We spend hours walking the aisles of our bookstores, caressing the colourful spines in our favourite sections. You know how it is…your blood beats faster when you open that door and take in the whiff and wonder of the imagination in the concrete form!

We can now mark JUNE 25th on our calendars as the one day where it is imperative to visit your local book buyer. Visit the other 364 days, if you can…but you MUST MUST MUST visit on June 25th. This is the day where we support the stores we love to call our own. You know how it is. All us book geeks have our OWN stores, right. There are only two weeks left before this year’s SAVE BOOKSTORES DAY! I can’t wait to swarm MY bookstore.

So what bookstore will I be supporting on this special day? My favourite one…even though I very seldom get a chance to make it to the store. BLUE HERON BOOKS! Thankfully, the store’s owner is tireless in being active in the writing community of which I am a part! Shelley Macbeth is present with her books (I like to think of it as Blue Heron being a travelling bookstore!) at every WCDR BREAKFAST MEETING and she is also an INTEGRAL part of the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE! Not only is she and her crew there on the day of the conference–selling books–but she is also a non-stop resource for the conference. Her connections in the book industry are tremendous! And she is incredibly generous with those contacts. Shelley has helped procure numerous sponsors and speakers and readers for the conference. She is a GODSEND to the entire arts community of Durham Region.

I haven’t been to the actual store too many times, but I make sure to buy books from the travelling bookstore! On June 25th, I’ll be making the drive to Uxbridge to support Blue Heron. And I hope that I’ve spread the word about SAVE BOOKSTORES DAY far and wide enough that there is literally a swarm of people at the store that day. It would really make my day if the store becomes too crowded to get down its aisles! Imagine seeing a line-up OUTSIDE your favourite bookstore! Wouldn’t THAT be something!

If you are in (OR NEAR!) the Durham Region, why not make the trip to beautiful Uxbridge on June 25th…show your support for a bookstore that is really like no other bookstore. BLUE HERON BOOKS is an active and integral part of the Durham Region community. What better way to say thank you for all that support, than to buy a book or two or three or four on SAVE BOOKSTORES DAY!

Come to the BLUE HERON BOOK SWARM! Saturday June 25th, 2011 @ 9am-11am (If you can’t get out to the store quite that early…just get there sometime during the day. They will be open all day and it is a Saturday.) Why did I choose to call it a swarm? Because I imagine a swarm being all encompassing and my hope is that Blue Heron is full during the swarm to the point of looking like an epic beehive of activity. I’m a book geek. All book geeks want the world to revolve around books. Maybe on June 25th, this will happen at Blue Heron! Here’s hoping!

Blue Heron Books

Click on the CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF GREAT BOOKS picture above to be taken to Blue Heron’s website. If you are unable to make the trip to the store on Saturday, June 25th…please keep in mind that you can still show your support by ordering online. You COULD order online any of the 365 days of the year, if you wish. (-:

Please help me show support to Blue Heron. Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. See you at the store on the 25th!

CBC BOOKS gave Blue Heron the Spotlight as one of Canada’s Favourite Independent Bookstores. Read all about it here.

Here’s a link to the place page for Blue Heron Books. Click it for directions and other info.

The Swarm has a facebook event page. If you are heading to Blue Heron on the 25th, please consider clicking ATTENDING on the event page: BLUE HERON BOOKSTORE SWARM FACEBOOK EVENT

Blue Heron Books makes its presence known at the Ontario Writers’ Conference!

Toronto Writers – There is LIFE East of the City!

I’m quite sure that the little city west of Durham Region has a vibrant writing community. I mean, with a population of roughly 2.5 million…you would think that there were enough writers to form a circle of some sort. Maybe a cozy table of 4 at the local Starbucks? Or perhaps they meet en masse on a downtown street corner and belt out poetry & prose to the throngs of passersby on a Saturday afternoon? Who knows? I’m far too busy with the dynamic writing community here in Durham Region to find out what the little city to the west of us is doing as a writing community (this is not entirely true! Us Durham Region writers often travel in groups to Toronto for writing events of interest!). I’m sure they’re having a blast though.

I wonder if they know what’s happening here? I wonder if they realize that the Durham Region is attracting some of Canada’s biggest writers to their stages and writing events? I wonder if they know how close Durham Region is to their city? It seems a shame that more Torontonian writers don’t get in their cars and make that long mysterious vortex of a trip to the nether regions of EAST OF THE CITY!

In Durham Region, we have the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION, which is a wonderfully supportive writing community for writers.

I wonder if any of the TORONTO writers who stumbled upon this post are brave enough to click on the above logo? I wonder if they are ready to discover an entire writing universe that lingers just EAST of their metropolis? Because if they were to do that (click on the above logo), they would find out that they can attend monthly WCDR breakfast meetings at the posh AJAX CONVENTION CENTRE, which is JUST off the 401 and minutes from Toronto. There is a guest speaker from the Canadian writing community at each of these meetings. And tons of opportunities to network with fellow writers, editors, publishers, etc. They would probably be amazed that the WCDR is able to collect over 100 writers together in the same room once a month at 8:30 on a Saturday morning!

After discovering these monthly breakfast meetings, I’m sure Torontonian writers will wonder how they too can take part in such a vibrant Saturday morning activity. They might even want to find out how to JOIN THE WCDR FOR BREAKFAST! (<that’s a link!)

But the WCDR breakfasts are really just the tip of the iceberg. The Durham Region has BOOKS & BEVVIES, a lively night out with fine food and readings. This event gives writers another fine opportunity to mingle, network, enjoy each other’s words and company.

A growing component of the writing community EAST OF THE CITY is the annual ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE This event takes place in Ajax…again just off the 401 and minutes from Toronto.

Toronto writers can even watch past Ontario Writers’ Conference speakers on the OWC Youtube channel. That way, they can see what they missed… and plan ahead so they won’t have to miss another conference ever again!

Yes…if they click on the above logo they will most definitely be taken to the OWC Youtube page. And once there, they can watch such writers as Robert J. Wiersema, Wayson Choy, Andrew Pyper…and a slew of others…give talks at past conferences.

I wonder if Torontonian writers realize they won’t fall off the end of the world if they travel east of Scarborough? I wonder if they realize they would be fully welcomed and embraced by the vibrant writing community that is BUZZING with electric energy and sitting here right in their own backyard?

These are some of the bigger events in Durham Region, but they are by far not the only events for writers. The Whitby Library is always able to attract big name writers to their downtown branch. It’s always worth the drive to Whitby to hear authors such as Robert J. Wiersema and Susanna Kearsley reading from their newest releases!

I wonder if the Toronto writers who have not yet ventured EAST OF THE CITY know of all the remarkable world class writing workshops being led by Durham writers?

What’s that above these words? Why, another link to fabulous Durham Region writing opportunities, of course! I bet there are Toronto writers clicking on that logo right now to discover what Inkslingers is all about!

But there are other busy Durham Region workshop facilitators too! Just click on this link and you’ll discover Durham also has an amazing WRITESCAPE in its playground. I know Toronto writers just clicked on that link. They’d be crazy not to! With all the wonderful retreats being hosted by Writescape, they would want to know exactly what it’s all about!

I wonder if there are any more Toronto writers out there who are willing to take the plunge off the edge of the world and make that worthwhile trek EAST OF THE CITY? If they were to do so, they would surely enrich their writing lives beyond belief. Notice how I said MORE. The Durham Region already attracts a number of Toronto writers to its vibrant community. Some have already discovered the secret of the abundant writing world we have here (lucky them!).

Durham also has a vibrant theatre community…and it’s growing all the time. Don’t miss out on the annual DRIFTWOOD THEATRE’S TRAFALGAR24 PLAY CREATION FESTIVAL. It’s only in DURHAM REGION!

Click on the castle pic above to find out how you can find yourself on the inside, having the time of your life! But only if you brave the drive to WHITBY!

We also have a theatre festival in Durham. The annual Durham Theatre Festival is region wide…and offers a wide variety of plays to choose from. Some written by Durham Region playwrights! I wonder if any of the Toronto writers are going to click on the logo below?

SO, TORONTO…what are you waiting for? The Durham Region Writing community is here. And it’s ALWAYS ready to embrace more writers! Take that leap…make the trip EAST OF THE CITY! It will change your life!

You can Twitter follow some of those mentioned here: @ONTWritersConf @WCDR1 @HotSauced @Inkslingersca @Piquant_Pr @Writescape_ @DriftwoodTheatr

Don’t Forget to Talk to the Animals!

Dear Writer,

Don’t let people tell you that the MUSE is a tiny creature with wings and a golden wand who will come land on your shoulder and whisper sweet-plottings into your ear.

The muse is inside you. You are the muse you seek. Millions of thoughts race by within the human mind every minute. The writer has the unique ability to reach inside that chaotic slipstream and pull out the not-quite-shiny diamond among the cosmic dust. They cuddle that diamond, mold it, smash it, crush it, stretch it and eat it. That diamond may be a snatch of dialogue, an odd little character glimpsed out of the corner of their eye, a random thought that makes them shiver with delight…or anything else that travels through their brain shouting for attention. The muse is you. It’s those thoughts and your special ability to pluck the right ones and haul them off to the drafting table of your imagination.

If you wait for a scantily clad Roman Goddess to come walking into your life and deliver unto you the wild wanderings of a poem-spark or novel-idea…you’ll wait forever, my friend. There ain’t no muse. Sit with yourself and think. Or, better yet, DON’T THINK. Become a being sitting, not thinking. Yes…I know. It’s very Zen and crazy to consider this. But the milk of an idea comes not when we’re concentrating…grasping and begging for it to come. The diamonds that must be rubbed to a shine are the ideas that come to us when we are busy doing other things. Our muse (remember…we are the muse!) picks the oddest moments in our workaday lives to drop brilliance into that aforementioned slipstream of human thought. Your job isn’t to CONCENTRATE on the flow and grab at the diamond…your job is to be the sitter. Your job is to jump up and scream, “OOH! SHINY!” As your own muse, you are only gifted in the silence. You only ‘listen’ when you are the quiet amidst the chaos.

When do I find the muse inside myself?

I ALWAYS talk with the animals. And they always lead me to that place where we become the flow…where we can see the sparkle of ideas and know instinctively which ones will take us places. When you allow yourself to talk to animals, anything is possible. Again…it may sound crazy. But I gave up worrying what other people think a long time ago. When I found myself returning to writing in 2003, after an extremely lengthy absence from it, I decided I would not THINK about writing. I would just DO writing. And I would take my dog for walks and discuss my writing with her. She listens. Or, rather, she allows me to listen. Talking to her is a bit like escaping reality. And when one escapes reality, their senses are more preternatural. They ‘see’ more. They ‘hear’ more. When I talk to the animals, I’m not THINKING. I’m not struggling, “What should I write about???!!!” I’m just being the me that can watch the chaos of ideas slip through my mind. I can ignore them and laugh at them and push the bad ones away. Some sort of net (we’ll call the net THE MUSE) seems to strap itself down and stretch itself across the shores of this slipstream when I’m not looking. It catches all the glittery diamonds that would otherwise sneak past. When I’m walking through the woods discussing things with my dog–not thinking about things–this net does the work for me.

What is this rambling post about? I knew you would ask me this. It’s about unplugging. Writers too often try desperately to find topics to write about. They struggle with not knowing their true desires, their true sparks, their true muse. All you have to do is shut up and listen. You have to completely unplug. My form of unplugging is talking to the animals. Yes…I do talk to more than just my dog. When you’re talking to your dog, other dogs listen. Pretty soon, you’re the pied piper of the dog park. And this makes my muse extremely happy. My muse reaps what I sow. He puts himself into action the moment I unplug.

Find the thing that makes you silent. Find the thing that makes the chaotic mix of ideas swirling around in your head take a pause. You are your muse. You are the only person who can stop that chaos long enough to pull away the shiny diamonds. The pleasure is in the polishing of those diamonds–the process of writing your story after you find that diamond. But you can’t wait for an outside source to bring you your kernels. You need to do it yourself. You need to accept that you–and you alone–are your muse.

Franny – Who is NOT my Muse

Don’t forget to talk to the animals! They always send me in the right direction.

The Writing Life – Busy, Busy, Busy!

I looked at my day book app this morning and tried really hard not to hyperventilate. It almost worked too… Until I thought of all those little things I have to do between all the events I actually notated into the calendar. I think I’m going to need a clone.

The 2012 Ontario Writers’ Conference planning committee will be in full swing beginning Thursday June 10th. That’s tomorrow. Between now and the 17th…every single day has something marked in on the calendar. Throw in everyday life, and the fact that I still have to go through the final galley of SUMMER ON FIRE with a fine tooth comb prior to its release at the beginning of July, and I’m pretty much screwed. That IS the polite way of saying it.

But, hey, I like this kind of schedule. It keeps me going! This coming Saturday is the WCDR BREAKFAST MEETING I ALWAYS love attending these meetings. It makes a writer feel more legit to do so. This Saturday is extra special, as I’m bringing my daughter to a meeting for the first time. Should be great. And the guest speaker is Camilla Gibb , quite a successful Canadian author. Should be entertaining AND informative.

With 3 OWC meetings in the next week, you would think that would be enough committee planning for one person. But you would be wrong. I am setting out, next Tuesday, on a new adventure that I am EXTREMELY excited about. Along with two of the Durham Region’s finest playwrights, I will be sitting down to plan/strategize a new creation. We don’t know what it will be called yet, but it will be a production company that workshops, rehearses and produces stage-works from local Durham (WCDR) playwrights. It will be an exciting meeting filled with the grandeur of as yet unfulfilled ideas. We WILL put these ideas into action though. The one thing I discovered since entering the creative slipstream of the Durham Region arts scene is that ideas give birth to committees/organizations/events, etc. They all get fulfilled. I am of the firm belief that the Durham Region is the most vibrant writing community in Canada, if not North America…if not, dare I say it, the WORLD.

So, I have the Ontario Writers’ Conference, the WCDR Breakfast, the Durham playwrights group, my novel’s final birthing pains prior to release… I think that may be it for June. And then…I wish you could TYPE a drum roll. I will just ask you to make (or imagine) the sound of a drum roll prior to reading the next line. AND THEN………

THE MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON!!! as of typing these words, the website’s countdown to the #MNM2011 (<REMEMBER THAT HASHTAG. MARATHONERS WILL BE TWEETING IT DURING THE WEEKEND OF THE MARATHON TO FILL TWITTER FOLLOWERS IN ON THE FUN HAPPENING AT THE MARATHON!)  is 37 days, 11 hours, 56 minutes and 48 seconds away. I have taken part in the marathon 3 times now. This, my fourth marathon, is something I have looked forward to ALL YEAR! I love sitting down for 72 hours and having a novel to show for it at the end of the weekend. It has become the only way I get things done! If you are adventurous, there are still a few openings for the marathon. Trust me…it’s the best thing you can do for your creativity. (-: I will be taking a friend and fellow Museitup Publishing author, Sandra Clarke, along for the journey!

Well…I guess that’s all for now. I’m just taking a breather to contemplate the fun times ahead in the next few weeks. These are the days of our lives in the Durham Region writing community. Always something happening…always opportunities for growth. There is so much for my muse to get involved in that I sometimes have to remind it to pay attention! The last thing you want is a muse with A.D.D. OR…maybe that’s the best thing for a muse to have? It seems to be working, in my case! (-;

One Month Away From Publication – Summer on Fire (Young Adult Novel)

SUMMER ON FIRE, my debut novel, will be released in one month. People tend to consider the release date the birth of the book. If this is the case, some books have a hell of a long gestation period! SUMMER was a seed in my belly on November 1st, 2003. I started to feed that seed on that very day. It was my first NANOWRIMO novel.

I did not finish Nanowrimo that year. The object is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. I wrote about 25,000. I was disappointed that I did not reach the goal…but then I realized that the goal of Nanowrimo isn’t really the 50K word count. It’s more about BIC (Bum in Chair) time. Nano is about dedicating time to writing…and getting that BIC and working. That’s what I did in 2003. I sat. I wrote. By the end of the month I had something I was really excited about. The beginnings of a story of three boys…and their search for a firm moral ground to stand on in the midst of the chaos around them. I put those boys through some tough times. But I had faith in them…I hoped that I raised them with enough gumption to get to the end in one piece. But once you raise them and let them go into their own stories, you never know what’s going to happen. You hope you gave them the right tools to work with. You hope you taught them—wait! These aren’t children. These are characters.

I took it slow and easy with SUMMER, after the initial Nanowrimo marathon. It actually took me several years to bring the boys to the end of their story. But with dedication–and the help of a wonderful critique group–I got them there! And then I edited their story. Then I edited it again. Then I edited it again. And again. I really worked hard on this story. Thanks to that critique group, I took a very minor character who appeared in one chapter and I worked her into the rest of the novel. The group of eight writers (and friends!) asked for more and more of this character. So she became a savior of sorts for my three boys.

To continue with the birthing analogy, SUMMER had several births. Every pass I took through this novel was another birth…and every one had birthing pains. Contractions at the thoughts of losing parts and contractions while inserting new parts. It’s all a patchwork quilt that you hope is at its finest on the eventual (hopefully) actual birth date. PUBLICATION. I think I did my best with Summer. I kicked and screamed along the way. I laughed. I cried. I begged for the pain to stop. I wept with joy each time I arrived at the end and looked into the eyes of my baby. I screamed at my muse a few times, saying, “DON’T COME NEAR ME! DON’T TOUCH ME!!! YOU DID THIS TO ME!”

Now it’s time to get to the delivery room. The final birthing pains are about to arrive. The anxiety of wondering if the baby is going to be fully and completely there. I will be looking for 10 fingers and 10 toes. I will hope for eyes and ears and hair and elbows. I will look at the umbilical cord and struggle with the thought of cutting it…of letting my baby go off into the world unattached to my core. It’s a hard thing, this birthing. It fills one with a great wall of fear (Will people love my baby, or will they scoff at it? Will they embrace it, or will they kick it to the curb?). But it is also a wonderful occasion. You always wonder what your baby is going to look like. And like it or not, it doesn’t always feel real until you can hold it in your hands.

I’m ready.

In one month, I will finally be able to call myself an author. And I have SO many people to thank for that. Too many to mention. But I love them all. For one reason or another, they believed in me. And with the backing of friends and loved ones…you can achieve anything. Even the great miracle of birth!


Summer on Fire by Kevin Craig

2011 Ontario Writers’ Conference – What a day!

I was going to blog about the Ontario Writers’ Conference today. I was going to talk about how wonderful a day it was, how amazing it was to be surrounded by writers of all stages and ages…how energetic it was to be among so many talented creative people. There was a buzz in the air and I wanted to write about it.

But I’m an organizer. I was in charge of registration for the event. I don’t want to blow my own horn—even though my part was so small. I don’t want to be a representative of the Ontario Writers’ Conference standing up and shouting, “Weren’t we great!” One, I’m not a braggart. Two, I get a tingle of argh! when I see people patting themselves on the back. Three, the magic of the day was as much about the registrants and the presenters and the speakers and the mentors and the media and the booksellers and the venue staff and the vendors and the student volunteers and the honorary patron and the agents and sponsors and the donors and everyone else as it was about the organizers. As organizers, we had but one goal. Make the day as special as we can make it. And that’s what the nine of us did. We tried our best.

I won’t write about all the things that happened at the conference. As much as I am HUGELY biased by my love of the event and my fellow volunteer organizers, I don’t want to spout on about how fabulous the 2011 Ontario Writers’ Conference was.

Instead, I will supply links from people who were at the conference and chose to write about it. I thank all of them now, not only for coming and making the event the success that it was, but also for writing about it. Thank you all for your kind words of support. We really do try our best to make this an event of creative inspiration for all who attend!







I will add more, if there are more. (-:

I want to thank everybody who had anything to do with the conference this year. Whether you were a registrant, a volunteer, a Blue Pencil mentor, a bookseller, a workshop presenter, a skit writer, an actor, a lecturer, a speaker, a reader, a vendor, a sponsor, or anyone I’m forgetting in this post…THANK YOU. You helped to make the day a special one.

Rejection/Acceptance – Are You Being Served?

…and if so, which do you prefer—the hard or soft option?

I have a novel–HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN–in the hands of my agent, who has it sent out on submission at the moment. The waiting is the hardest part. When you’re waiting to hear back from agents/publishers—whether it’s for a novel, a poem, an article, an essay or a grocery list—what kind of response do you prefer? Are you one of those people who would rather have an immediate rejection, or are you willing to wait for months on end for a possibly-maybe? Another one of my novels has been with a publisher for about 6 months now. There are days that go by where I forget it even exists… and other days where I want to send an email to remind them of my existence (something one does not do). I suppose we are all like Bambi’s mother. “Don’t go into the meadow!” and then that inexplicable need to go into the meadow…

I’d rather not get shot by the hunter, but I still feel the need to know if the hunter can see me or not. “I’m over here! I’m over here!” –waving frantically, waiting to be shot. “Hello!”

How do you like to be served? Rejection is a medicine best served quickly, is it not?

Summer on Fire – Young Adult Novel

My Young Adult novel, SUMMER ON FIRE, will be available from Museitup Publishing in July, 2011.

Summer on Fire by Kevin Craig (Museitup Publishing, July 2011)

If you go to their bookstore, you can click on the NOTIFY ME button to be notified when it is available for purchase.

Here is a blurb on the story:

Summer on Fire Summer…fire, bodies, murder, enemies and lies. Is it too much for three friends to handle? The race is on…

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.


I am currently working with editors on SUMMER ON FIRE.

Also, my Young Adult novel HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN was originally written during the July, 2010 72-hour Muskoka Novel Marathon. It went on to win THE MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD.

My Young Adult Novel – Summer on Fire – Has a Cover!

My Young Adult novel, SUMMER ON FIRE, now has a cover!

Summer on Fire will release this coming JULY from Museitup Publishing. TODAY, I received my cover and I love it!

Here it is:

Summer on Fire by Kevin Craig (Museitup Publishing, July 2011)

Trafalgar – Another 24!

In two days I will walk into Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario and get locked in for 8 hours. Doesn’t sound appealing? Of course it is! It’s actually a big time honour and privilege.

This will be my third consecutive year of being locked into the fantastic 19th century castle that is strategically hidden in the heart of downtown Whitby. It will be my third year as one of the PLAYWRIGHTS for Driftwood Theatre’s annual TRAFALGAR24 Play Creation Festival!

At 10pm on Thursday night me and five other playwrights will be locked into the castle, given some sort of prompt, pictures of our actors and the room in which we are to create our plays. We will be given 8 hours to write our play. At 6am Friday…the doors will be unlocked. The playwrights will be freed and the actors and directors will then be locked in for 8 hours. Sounds like fun, eh. It is! Trust me.

On Friday night, there will be a fantastic gala event…6 plays, wine and a bounty of amazing desserts. There will also be a silent auction and an amazing amount of laughter, pathos, drama, and more. All for an exceptional cause—DRIFTWOOD THEATRE.

This year, there is one slight difference. On previous years there were 10 plays and each audience member got to pick 6 plays to view. This year, there are only 6 plays…and the audience, along with a jury, sees all six and votes on their favourite. One play will be selected for further development.

I’m happy to have been chosen to be one of the 6 playwrights for this event. I already won.


Here’s to another great year in the castle!