BIG NEWS! Hint? Wait Until You HEAR My New Novel!

I have been dying to shout this bookish news from the rooftops and now I finally can! This is big! A bucket list item!

BOOK OF DREAMS IS GETTING AN AUDIOBOOK!!!

O.M.G!

I am so excited about this development. This will be the first time one of my books has been recorded as an audiobook. And the voice actor recording the book? CHEF’S KISS! I actually got to listen to some of the auditions along the way, and then some samples of the actor eventually hired to record BOOK OF DREAMS and I could NOT be happier!

The voice actor is CJ Heineman! The second I heard their audition tape, I knew they were the one! Without a doubt, CJ was Gaige! They do such an incredible job. I’ve only heard the first couple of chapters so far, but it’s pure magic. They’re just the perfect voice to narrate Gaige’s story. If I had imagined Gaige’s voice in my head, CJ is what I would have heard.

This is truly a dream come true. This little book that began with the idea WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THIS KID STUMBLED UPON A BOOKSTORE WHERE NO BOOKSTORE SHOULD BE? at the Muskoka Novel Marathon is now an audiobook! This nugget of an idea that I ran with amidst the chaos of 40 writers hanging out together in one room has been realized into an actual book. Writing is magical, isn’t it!?

Thanks to the people at the Muskoka Novel Marathon for giving us writers a warm friendly place to make magic.

The Active Living Centre in Huntsville, Ontario, where the marathon usually takes place (when there’s not a pandemic).

And thanks to my publisher, Chicago Review Press, and its Duet Books imprint, for believing in my story enough to not only publish it…but to produce the accompanying audiobook.

And a HUGE thanks to CJ Heineman for bringing the story to life with their flawless rendition of my narrator, Gaige! Click the pic to be taken to their Twitter profile:

Check out the audiobook of BOOK OF DREAMS today!

It takes a while for the audiobook to be uploaded, so as of yet there is only one place where it is available. I will update this post as it appears on other sites. BUT OFFICIALLY, IT’S AVAILABLE! It just showed up at KOBO CANADA!

AUDIOBOOK LINK AT KOBO CANADA!!!

AUDIOBOOK LINK AT KOBO UK!!!

AUDIOBOOK LINK AT KOBO USA!!!

Just a quick reminder that I will be signing paperback copies of Book of Dreams at Chapters-Indigo Oshawa Centre on Saturday October 1st, 2022 at 1:00pm. THAT’S THIS COMING SATURDAY!! Please come out and say hello!

Chapters-Indigo Oshawa Centre
419 King Street West, Unit #1135,
Oshawa, Ontario
L1J 2K5
Canada

CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTIONS TO THE INDIGO OSHAWA LOCATION.

One More Time! The Muskoka Novel Marathon Part XIII

Lucky Number 13! Here we go!

It’s that time of year to start gearing up for the annual MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON again! And this year will be my 13th kick at the 72-hour novel writing marathon can. I have well and truly found what works best for me. It’s the bum-in-chair once a year chaos of a marathon writing frenzy.

The Active Living Centre in Huntsville, Ontario, where the marathon usually takes place (when there’s not a pandemic).

This event is a fundraiser for area literacy programs. Since its inception, the MNM writers have collected hundreds of thousands of dollars through this marathon. And, as an added bonus, we get to spend an uproarious long weekend together in beautiful Huntsville, Ontario, in the heart of Muskoka.

40 Writers – 1 Room – 72 Hours – 40 Novels

Unfortunately, the past 2 years have been online…and this year will ALSO be online. Damn pandemic! I will tell you right now, it’s not the same as when you have 40 writers living together for 72 hours, sharing one big room, while each attempts to write the Great Canadian Novel. But the magic is still there. We meet through Zoom, we brainstorm, we chat, we laugh. We read our work. There is still a special dynamic that cannot be ignored. It’s still worth it.

Taking a break in the closet at the 2018 Muskoka Novel Marathon. My nap-cubby.

This year’s marathon is JULY 15th to JULY 18th. From Friday at 8pm to Monday at 8pm. If you register and write your novel (or part of your novel) during that 72 hour period, you can submit it at the end of the weekend. It goes to an industry panel of judges and a BEST NOVEL AWARD is chosen for MG/YA and ADULT manuscripts. Winners get prizes and the opportunity to submit their manuscript to a publisher, once they have time to complete it and edit it.

Meet and Greet at the beginning of the 2016 Muskoka Novel Marathon.

The online marathon’s registration fee is only $25. Here’s the INFO PAGE FOR FIRST TIME PARTICIPANTS. Keep in mind that the link covers in person details, but it also has the breakdown of prizes and awards, etc.

The facility where the Muskoka Novel Marathon usually takes place. The writers have one huge room to write in together, with a second room where we all dine together.

The in-person facility for this annual marathon is quite amazing. Once it’s back in-person, you should really consider vying for a coveted seat at the marathon table.

This dock is only a few feet from the building where the marathon takes place when it’s in-person.

Here is what I have done in past years at the Muskoka Novel Marathon:

What I have written at Muskoka Novel Marathon

2007|Sebastian’s Poet|Best Adult Novel Award
2008|The Reasons|Best Adult Novel Award
2010|Half Dead & Fully Broken|Best Young Adult Novel Award
2011|That’s Me In The Corner|Best Young Adult Novel Award
2012|Burn Baby Burn Baby
2013|Alive & Kicking
2014|The Book of Your Dreams|Honorable Mention
2015|Pride Must Be A Place
2016|I Will Tell The Night|Best Adult Novel Award
2018|Hey, New Guy
2019|No Visible Damage|Runner Up
2020|I’ve Waited Hours for This
2021| Worked on contracted novel…did not enter.

I’m not sure what my plan is for this year’s marathon. To use a juggling metaphor, a few balls are in the air.

Every time a writer reaches another 10-page milestone, they add a strip of paper with their name on it to the clothesline. It gets pretty full by the end of the weekend!

We will meet online this year. Hopefully this is the last year. The good thing is… we get to introduce NEW people to the Marathon this year. Because it’s online, people from all over the world can join…and there’s no cap on attendance. In person, the cap is 40 writers. So, if you want to focus on your writing for 72 hours in July this year, consider registering. You will get writing time, support, new friendships…win, win! REGISTER HERE.

There is LOTS of silly time to be had at the in-person marathon! Here I am with the zany Karen Elliott. Can’t wait to be back to the in-person event. I can’t believe I get so much writing done at the event, because we have the time of our lives!

I’ve met lifelong friends at the marathon, and also dragged many local writing friends to the event. And I’ve been lucky to get visits most years from my favourite person as well. 🙂

Here’s hoping 2023 is in person. As for 2022…it’s time to register! Cyber-See-You there!

Read Chapter One of BURN BABY BURN BABY Now!

I thought I would share Chapter One of my young adult novel Burn Baby Burn Baby with you today. This novel won a couple awards…I wrote it at the Muskoka Novel Marathon over a 72 hour weekend retreat in Huntsville, Ontario. If you search this site, you will find everything you need to know about the MNM here. I’ve written about it often.

Here’s the first chapter of BURN BABY BURN BABY

“My drops of tears I’ll turn to sparks of fire.~ William Shakespeare, Henry VIII

CHAPTER 1

The movie of my life would probably begin with a close-up of our kitchen window. And inside the kitchen, Mom would be screaming. She’s pretty much angry about everything. All the time. The camera would then pan out to take in the destruction of our yard. I swear it’s a redneck delight out there. Broken-down cars, an above-ground pool with the sides smashed in, and just enough water at the bottom of it to house a colony of diseased mosquitoes. We have it all.

The camera would then pan away from our house, but Mom’s big mouth would still be heard loud and clear. It doesn’t matter what she’s saying. Nobody listens to her anyway. The theater audience would then get to see perfectly coiffed yards as far as the eye can see. Our house is the only rundown disaster area on our block, you see. All the other houses are orderly, cookie-cutter replicas of one another. We’re the neighborhood pariahs.

Welcome to my life. That’s the way it goes, though, right? You don’t get to pick your family. Hell, you don’t even get to leave them if you don’t like the one you’re stuck with. A lot of bad has to happen before you can grab up all your crap and sign up for another family. And even then, you’re not guaranteed what you’ll end up with. Take your chances and keep what you have, dude. There are some messed up sickos out there. Best to stick with the devil you know.

You probably have no idea why I’d start my life movie with a close-up of my kitchen window. There’s a good reason why I wouldn’t be in the opening sequence. I’d want to keep people in the seats for as long as possible. Starting right in on me might scare a few of them away before the credits wrap. And I wouldn’t be a very good filmmaker if that happened, now would I? See, I’m not like other people. I mean, I’m not a hell of a lot unlike other people. But I do have certain traits that are unusual and—how can I put this delicately?—unpretty.

No matter how much people cringe when they look at me, though, they always come back for that second gawk. You know the car wreck you don’t want to look at, but can’t help yourself from staring at? Well, I’m kind of like that car wreck in human form. You won’t want to look at me. But once you do, your eyes will be compelled to stay on me. You may even walk into light posts or people or stuff, too, as you keep moving forward but turn your head back to stare. I’ve seen it happen. Rubberneckers love me.

That’s me, in a nutshell. So I’d save you from seeing me for at least the first few minutes of the movie of my life. I’d want the credits to roll first, before people began to flee from their seats, looking back at the freak show on the screen and tripping over each other on the way out of the theater. Ugly don’t sell popcorn.

I know what you’re thinking. It can’t be that bad. It’s not, really. I’m used to it. But you know how people are. People are mean, small-minded, petty, you name it. People will do the wrong thing every time. I’ve learned to count on it.

I can tell you stories.

To bring you back into focus, you know, on the story of my life. The opening credits have rolled and you already have a pretty good idea the story is about the poorest, least proud family in a pretty nice-looking neighborhood. I got that much in. That tells a lot, really. Think about it. You know the story isn’t going to be about my neighbors in their perfect little houses. It’s gonna be about that odd house out. That rundown shack in the middle of the beautiful suburban sprawl. Something has happened to the people in that house, something probably bad. They lost their zest for life, right? I mean, the least they can do is remove some of the garbage collecting against their back fence. They have no pride. They no longer give a crap.

Maybe the story is about why they no longer care.

Now that you have an image of the house in your mind, I think the next best place to introduce in the movie would be the halls of Helltown Secondary. It’s actually Shelton Secondary, but all the cool kids call it Helltown. They have for generations. I’m not one of the cool kids, but I call it Helltown too. Mostly because it’s the one place in the world that feels the most like what hell would feel like if it existed.

So, the camera pans on the school. Full frontal. It takes in the flag, the school name on the building’s façade, the whole deal. Then we’re slowly taken in through the front doors. Very prestigious. Very upper-class. Marble stairs leading to great oak doors you really have to grab onto to swing open.

Once we’re inside, the camera does one of those speedy-up things where it races through the hallways taking in the occasional hot girl—again full frontal—the odd jock hunk, maybe with football gear slung over his shoulder, or a hot girl dripping off his deltoids. You get the picture. Everybody who is hot is gettin’ some action, and the camera convinces you of this in the few quick-glimpse shots of the school beauties petting and pawing and preening over one another. There. Look. We see a girl putting on lipstick. She’s stretching upwards, with one foot slightly lifted out behind her, while she stares into her locker mirror. The pose just oozes sex. She’s putting some hot, wet-looking lipstick on her teen girl lips, perfect pouty lips that most of the guys will never ever touch.

Okay. Enough of that. I kind of went all self-indulgent there. Okay, so the camera turns a corner and focuses on the back of a head. The head is shoved fully into its owner’s locker. There’s a hand repeatedly pushing the head, and the front of the head is ringing soundly off the back of the locker.

Okay. See that hand? You with me so far? That hand is on the back of my head. I would make my first appearance in the movie of my life by appearing as the back of my head. I’d want to save the audience the agony for just a split second longer. I’d want their sympathy first. That poor boy? What did he ever do to deserve that? In other words, I would milk it. I’d want to slowly introduce them to the lead character, get them ready for what they’re about to see. It helps to build momentum, too.

I tend to visualize everything as a movie. The truth is, I’m a future Oscar-winning director. The screen will never have me, but I’m gonna kick movie ass behind the camera one day. I’m already brilliant at capturing stuff on film, just ask me. But, right now, the movie stuff is too tiresome. It’s not allowing me to drop down into the story properly. So, let’s say we just go full screen on the scene.

Boy One is inside his locker, being pressed against the back of it by Boy Two. Boy Two is one of those boys who has probably already kissed those drop-dead lips the camera spent way too much time on earlier.

Yeah. Boy Two is pretty much perfect in every way. Boy Two is so drop-dead gorgeous, he could work for Abercrombie and Fitch. On the side. He’s a man, right? Or at least he could pass as one if he wanted to.

And Boy One? Well, he’s me. Scrawny, awkward, and weak-kneed.

Boy One kicks and screams and finally flails enough that he’s out of the locker, but only because the jock got bored. He’s ready to move on. He, the jock—Brandon Hayley—laughs with his friends and heads off down the hall.

If this was a movie I was making, I’d probably go all Quentin Tarantino at this point and there’d be a Brandon Hayley bloodbath. And… roll credits. End of story.

I’m left at my locker, trying really hard to look like it was no big deal. But it hurt, dammit. He just pounded my forehead into the back of my locker. That’s metal, folks, probably backed by concrete. He was slamming my head, too, not just softly tapping it. I hold my forehead, trying to keep the pain to a minimum. I pretend like I don’t want to burst into tears. I pick up my books and turn away from the locker, closing it as I turn.

And there it is; the head-on shot of the story’s hero. You can see that his right ear is melted away to a nub and that his cheek appears to be sliding off his face. Nothing major. Burns. People have seen them before. But let’s just stare at them openly anyway. It’s not rude. No. Go on. Go ahead. It’s all for your eyes. I live to be viewed. Really, I do.

Now, before I walk on down the hall in the direction of my chem lab—already late due to some recent head-slamming activity I was not previously aware would be a part of my day’s schedule—the camera pans just slightly. This gives the audience a glimpse of my right arm and hand. These too look like neat little science projects made out of candle wax. They too are dripping away from my body in a masticated mess of burnt flesh. They don’t hurt, of course. Now they are just scars. Just little showboating wounds I get to parade around all the live long day. What Grade 11 student wouldn’t be thrilled to have such burned limbs, such twisted flesh on the side of his face?

That’s me. Again, I said I was going to stop with the movie of my life thing. I think I need to have confidence that you have just enough to go on for now. You know about my home and about my disfigurement. Maybe I can just jump into things now and be done with it.

There you have it. That was Chapter One. If you’d like to continue reading, you can pick up a copy on Amazon! Just click on the cover below:

Here’s the full synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley-the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby. The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.

All Back Catalogue Titles are Now Only $2.99 on Amazon!

As of today, my back catalogue titles are only $2.99 on Amazon!

I have several titles that were originally published by now (sadly) defunct publishers. I wanted to keep them alive, so I did. I’ve marked them all down to $2.99/each moving forward (This is the USA Amazon price and pricing will vary in other countries. Still cheaper than a coffee, though.).

I love each and every one of these titles. They’re each a big part of my journey as a writer. From Summer on Fire, that I wrote after sitting in my car and watching an abandoned home burn to the ground in Oshawa, Ontario some thousand years ago, to Sebastian’s Poet, which was my first Muskoka Novel Marathon. I wrote Sebastian’s Poet in a foggy furious 48-hour cyclone writing period…and it might just be my favourite title. Not for the content of the story itself–though I do love the story–but for the experience I had writing it. It was an out-of-body experience that was life-changing for the way I approach writing itself.

 

Here’s a list of all the titles, with synopses and links. They are listed in the order in which they released into the world. I hope you check them out. These stories are very dear to me!

SUMMER ON FIRE:

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 neighboring 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 eminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.  $2.99 at AMAZON

 

SEBASTIAN’S POET :

Sebastian Nelson is a boy in search of a family. Abandoned by his mother, Sebastian is left with a broken father who doesn’t even seem present when he does show up. Forced to be the main caregiver of his younger brother, Renee, and lost in a sea of indifference, Sebastian only wants to experience the love a real, stable family could afford him.

One morning he discovers the famous folksinger, Teal Landen, asleep on the sofa. Teal’s nurturing nature brings an immediate sense of security into Sebastian’s tumultuous life. But a dark secret looms between Teal and Sebastian’s father of a hidden past. Sebastian is driven to discover their secret, but also he’s aware of how tenuous their hold on Teal really is. He doesn’t want to lose the feeling of home Teal’s presence has brought him.

If Sebastian pushes too hard, he could lose Teal forever. He could be destined to raise his younger brother alone, while witnessing the total decline of his emotionally devastated father. If Sebastian is abandoned by the only healthy influence in his otherwise shaky existence, he will also be forever in the dark about the secret that will reveal so much about his fractured family.

Sebastian’s Poet was the winner of the 2007 Muskoka Novel Marathon’s BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD. $2.99 at Amazon

THE REASONS:

With a mostly absent father, a deceased older sister, a younger sister on the verge of invisibility, and a certifiably insane mother, Tobias Reason is forced to grow up quickly. Though he tries to be a surrogate parent to his sister, their broken mother, Maggie, takes up a lot of his time. Annabel falls to the wayside and becomes a ghost in their chaotic existence.

When Maggie flippantly hands her mother’s house over to Tobias, he sees an opportunity to learn how and why his family became so shattered. Be careful what you wish for. When his world begins to collapse from the weight of un-buried secrets, he focuses on a stranger from his parents’ past. Only by eliminating the past, he believes, can he make his family whole again.

The Reasons won the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s 2008 BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD.

$2.99 at Amazon

 

BURN BABY BURN BABY:

Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley-the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby. The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end. $2.99 at Amazon

 

 

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 best friend, 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?

Half Dead & Fully Broken won the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s 2010 BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD.    $2.99 at Amazon

That’s all 5 titles. Look them up!

 

 

 

Win a Novel Marathon – We’ll Show You How!

The 20th Anniversary Muskoka Novel Marathon is this coming JULY!

The 20th Anniversary of the Muskoka Novel Marathon is Open for Registration! Save the Date: July 16 – 19, 2021

Have you ever thought about taking part in a novel writing marathon where you set aside a whole 72 hours to do nothing but write? It IS possible to have all or most of a first draft manuscript completed within that time period. I’ve done it several times. And if I can do it, anyone can.

Usually an in-person event, with meals and coffee and snacks and friendship and outings into the wild and into a lovely northern town, this year’s event is ALL VIRTUAL…thanks to the bitch known as THE NEVERENDING PANDEMIC.

So what this means to writers anywhere in the world, is that you too can attend the 20th anniversary marathon! There will be Zoom meetings throughout for bolstering, socializing, etc, etc, etc. And there is a coveted BEST NOVEL AWARD trophy. All manuscripts handed in at the end of the 72 hours are judged by a panel of industry professionals. They pick a BEST NOVEL out of both a child/youth category AND an adult category. Both of these BESTs move forward to a publisher for consideration and professional feedback.

On June 3rd I will be a panelist on a panel/lecture about putting your best foot forward during the writing period of the marathon…and winning that coveted BEST NOVEL AWARD. Joining me on the panel is Jennifer Turney and Shellie Westlake. Between the 3 of us, we have won 8 of the novel marathons…that’s just shy of HALF! We may have some tricks and insights to share with you in order to help you achieve that coveted win.

See above for the lecture’s description.

The Active Learning Centre in Huntsville, Ontario, where the Marathon usually takes place.

HOW TO WIN THE MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON is free to attend and it’s an online event in ZOOM. We’d love to have you aboard! Whether you’re registering for the marathon or not, I’m sure we’ll have some great advice to help you in your novel writing path.

Click HERE TO VISIT THE EVENT PAGE.

If you want to know more about the Muskoka Novel Marathon, you can CLICK THIS LINK RIGHT HERE! For 20 years writers in the Huntsville, Ontario region (MUSKOKA) have been assembling for a long weekend in JULY to write novels…but the main goal of the marathon–outside of the grossly beneficial writing time experienced by the writers–is a fundraiser. Each writer gets sponsors and we collect money for the literacy programs in the area. This is no small fundraiser…in the previous 19 years we have collected over $200,000.00 for these programs. By literacy, I don’t only mean those who struggle with reading and writing, but also new Canadians, ESL, computer literacy skills for elder students…the programs help SO MANY PEOPLE. We, the writers, are thrilled to be able to help in this small way to bring much needed funds to the YMCA literacy programs that help so many. We are writers helping readers.

2 happy MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON BEST NOVEL AWARD WINNERS – 2016 – Best YA Novel (Lori Hanson for Ned & Nora Stone), Best Adult Novel (Kevin Craig for I Will Tell The Night)

While I have you here, I will share my MNM profile page and my own fundraising page, if you’re so inclined to donate to this much needed cause:

MY MNM BIO PAGE WITH WINNING MANUSCRIPT INFO

MY DONATION PAGE FOR 2021

Join us on JUNE 3rd, 2021 from 7:00pm – 9:00pm for HOW TO WIN A MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON. Shellie, Jennifer, and I hope to see you there!

It’s a Novel Writing Marathon – And You’re Invited!

It’s time, once again, to register for the annual MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON!

I have been attending this event for years! Pride Must Be A Place was written at a Muskoka Novel Marathon.

Every July, for 72 hours, a group of 40 or so writers have gotten together in the small but glorious northern Ontario town of Huntsville. Every July, they hole up in a space together and they each attempt to write a novel over the course of a three-day weekend.

THIS YEAR it’s the 20th Anniversary of this event!

Some of the 2017 Muskoka Novel Marathon writers!

Sadly, it’s also the 2nd year that the writers aren’t quite getting together. At least, not in the same way. Last year was our very first ONLINE EDITION. And this year will be our second online marathon.

There are AWARDS handed out for BEST NOVEL in Adult and Young Adult/Juvenile categories. A panel of industry judges reviews each of the manuscripts submitted at the end of the weekend. Invaluable feedback is given to each manuscript.

I’m not going to lie. IT’S NOT THE SAME. Imagine the energy of having 40 writers in one room together for 72 hours. It’s frenetic, it’s chaos, it’s practically euphoric. We help each other with plot bunnies and holes, we urge each other on, we tease and joke and laugh and cry. And we also break bread together…as we are served 3 meals a day. All we have to do is stop writing, leave our writing stations, and go to the mess hall for food. It’s all set out and ready for us hungry writers to dig into.

You just can’t get that online.

BUT…it’s still an amazing journey. Writers meet through Zoom frequently. We have smaller breakout groups. We support each other. We even have silent Zoom meets where all those who attend just quietly type out their words together. Trust me…those are super helpful. I got a lot of words down during the silent Zooms. I didn’t think it would work, but it did.

The gorgeous dock at the in-person event space. Sadly, we will miss this in 2021…but it’s there waiting for next year!

We make the best with what we have. What we have during this pandemic is online camaraderie.

The good thing about ONLINE MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON is that it’s open to more than the usual 40 writers…and you don’t have to travel to HUNTSVILLE to attend! You can register and participate online in the comfort of your own writing space! AND you can be from anywhere in the world.

So think about spending a productive writing weekend with a group of writers dead-set on writing an entire novel in 72 hours.

The details (from the MNM website):

The 20th Anniversary of the Muskoka Novel Marathon is Open for Registration!
Save the Date: July 16 – 19, 2021

Due to the on-going situation with the pandemic, we will be holding our second (and hopefully last) all online Muskoka Novel Marathon. Join us for a ZOOM event. No seat limit! Tell all your friends!

This event is also a fundraiser for local (Muskoka) literacy programs. READ THE ABOUT PAGE HERE FOR ALL DETAILS AND HISTORY OF THIS EVENT.

There IS a nominal fee to register. This will cover all the expenses the organization incurs for organizing the event. Registration is $25 and there are also cool MNM T-shirts you can pick up if you wish.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Think about joining us this year. It’s so much fun to get online together and urge each other on! There’s also an evening during the weekend where anyone who wants to can read an excerpt from their MNM work-in-progress in a safe nonjudgmental environment.

You’ll have to make your own coffee…but what this organization puts together for this weekend is worth your attending. It got me through in 2020…and I’m looking forward to attending the 2021 event. It will be an opportunity to see old friends from previous MNM events…and meet new ones in this safe virtual creative space!

I’m guessing a good portion of my blog posts on this site are about the MNM. This will be, I think, my 13th marathon! I’ve written about many of them. Just search Muskoka Novel Marathon on this site to read more about it. And spend some time at their site:

MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON WEBSITE

I hope you’ll join us for the 2021 marathon! Take advantage of this burst of creativity this July!

Pride Must Be A Place Review…

For some unknown reason, My Google alerts chose today to send me an alert on a PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE review from July. Maybe Google knew I needed a boost in spirit?

Anyway, I’ve been talking so much about my recent release, THE CAMINO CLUB, that I sometimes forget how happy I was to have PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE published. I absolutely loved writing that story about the inception of a Gay Straight Alliance in a small town high school! I wrote half of Pride at the 2015 Muskoka Novel Marathon. Then, Michael and I stayed at his sister’s cottage for a week later on during that same July and I finished the manuscript. It was a fun ride!

Anyway, Google sent me an alert for a beautiful review of Pride that was posted at Muskoka Style Magazine in July. The reviewer, Kaitlyn Sutey, actually suggested it for a Pride Month read. It’s really a gorgeous review and it reminds me that I have written other books. We lose sight of that when we’re in the thick of publishing The Next Novel.

Click the photo from the article below to be taken to the review: Pride Must Be A Place, A Summer Read

If you haven’t yet read PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, you can pick it up at any of the below links (there’s also a link to Goodreads, where you can add it to your shelf and read what others are saying about Pride:
Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | BookShop | Indigo-Chapters | IndieBound | WalMart USAGoodreads

While you’re here, I did just release a novel a week ago! The Camino Club, from Duet Books/Interlude Press, is now available everywhere!

Here’s what American Library Association’s BOOKLIST has to say about it:

Pick up your copy today at any of the following links!

Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | BookShop | Indigo-Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo USA | Kobo Canada | Interlude Press/Duet Books | WalMart USA | Target | Blackwell’s (UK) | Booktopia (Aus) | APPLE Books | Goodreads

Chapter One – One More from the Muskoka Novel Marathon!

The Muskoka Novel Marathon organization has posted another of my winning Chapter Ones! The Best Novel Award winner from 2010!

THAT’S ME IN THE CORNER is not yet published. It won Best Novel Award in 2010. I have never sought publication for this one. I haven’t even written a synopsis for it. In a nutshell, it’s about a group of friends who prepare for a trip to Kenya where one of the boys falls in love with a Kenyan boy. As homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, there are some issues that arise.

No book cover to share for this one. (-:

CLICK HERE TO READ CHAPTER ONE OF THAT’S ME IN THE CORNER ON THE MNM WEBSITE.

Another Chapter One From Muskoka Novel Marathon…

The Muskoka Novel Marathon people are posting CHAPTER ONE previews for the first 20 years of BEST NOVEL AWARD winners, as well as honorable mentions and runners-up. A few more of mine were shared recently on the MNM blog. Here’s one from one of my published novels. I will share the others (which remain unpublished) in another post. You can pick up HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN at Amazon (link below).

Half Dead & Fully Broken was written during the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon. It won BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL that year. If you click on the book cover, you can go to the MNM site and read CHAPTER ONE!

Here’s the SYNOPSIS: 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 best friend, 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?

CHAPTER ONE AT MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON

AMAZON – HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN

Read My 1st Chapters at Muskoka Novel Marathon Website!

As part of their First 20 Years Celebrations, the Muskoka Novel Marathon is featuring the 1st chapters of some of their previous BEST NOVEL AWARD winning novels, along with Honorary Mentions and Runners Up. In those 20 years I’ve been extremely fortunate to have won the BEST NOVEL AWARD five times! And I also had a few HMs and RsU.

2 of my CHAPTER ONEs have been featured to date. I’ll share the links here, if you want to drop by the MNM website for a read or two.

Both of these books are on AMAZON only. They were both originally published by MUSA PUBLISHING. When they closed their doors, I made the novels available on Amazon.

sebastianspoetSEBASTIAN’S POET was my very first Muskoka Marathon novel. I wrote it during a 48hr marathon in 2007. At that time, entrants were able to choose between 48hrs and 72hrs. I wasn’t comfortable giving 72 whole hours over to writing at the time. It felt to selfish of me to do so. So I only did the 48hr marathon that first year. In that time, I wrote the entire novel (I later bulked it up a bit, but I wrote it right to the ending at the marathon).

CLICK THIS LINK TO READ CHAPTER ONE!

CLICK THIS LINK TO VISIT THE BOOK ON AMAZON!

 

 

The-ReasonsTHE REASONS was my second year at the Muskoka Novel Marathon! I gave myself a break and wrote for the entire 72hrs for this one. The first year was a dizzying thrill-ride, but this second year really cemented my love for this form of novel writing. All in one sitting. It’s a spectacular to connect to a story in this magical way. No distractions…just done in one!

CLICK THIS LINK TO READ CHAPTER ONE!

CLICK THIS LINK TO VISIT THE BOOK ON AMAZON!

 

I’d like to take a moment to say a few words about the marathon. I’ve been doing it on and off now for 12 years. 40 writers meet in one room for 72hrs and write 40 novels. I mean, it doesn’t get better than that, CREATIVELY. It’s a yearly oasis for writers. The event happens every JULY in Huntsville, Ontario. The Marathon organizers feed us, allow us to sleep on the premises (where there are showers), and provide an endless stream of coffee. We become a family for 3 days every year. The family changes year to year, but the sentiments remain the same. It is literally the best thing that has ever happened for my creative life. I write books because of this amazing opportunity. If you’re a writer, you really should check it out. Registration usually costs $100.00 Canadian and it is SO worth it. Where else can you stay for three days, get fed 3 meals a day and sleep and shower and play and create all for $100.00? I’m not certain, but I believe the answer is nowhere. I am so grateful for what this organization and its lovely people have done for my writing life!

The marathon is also a fundraiser for local literacy programs provided by the YMCA. To date, the marathon has raised well over $200,000.00 for literacy. No small change! Every year, the writers are encouraged to collect sponsorship donations (donors get tax receipts).

Go directly to the MNM BLOG to read all of their posted CHAPTER ONEs.

Everyone wins with the Muskoka Novel Marathon. They are a blessing in so many ways.

The 20th Anniversary of the Muskoka Novel Marathon is coming soon!
Save the Date: July 16 – 19, 2021
Want to be kept in the loop so you can join us next year? Join their mailing list.