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!

My After-The-Marathon Post

This past weekend was the 2020 Muskoka Novel Marathon. It was the…wait for it…QUARANTINE EDITION. Cue the creepy crawling dark and dreary music…

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The novel marathon is usually 40 writers getting together in one intimate space and writing 40 novels over the course of a 72 hours weekend in July. It occurs in Huntsville, Ontario, the heart of the Muskoka region. Cottage Country.

This year? Not so much. We sat in our own houses. We wrote on our own.

But the Marathon organizers did a SUPER FANTASTIC ABSOLUTELY AMAZING JOB motivating the housebound writers! They are to be commended for thinking outside the box during this, the year of impossibilities. Covid-19 changed EVERYTHING, including the MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON.

I know we won’t raise as much money for the YMCA literacy programs this year. It’s pretty much a given. But writers still did their best, we still did some fundraising. Hopefully, we raise enough to keep some of the programs funded. The yearly injection of funds that the Y gets from this marathon is no small change. We often raise upwards of $30,000 per marathon year.

The other elements of this event, outside of the fundraising? The WRITING. The camaraderie. The silliness. The emotions. The food. The coffee. The love. The words. The sunshine and the rain. While in Huntsville every year, the writers usually sneak out to explore the town…either on their own or in groups. We have a pub night, we take the old fashioned train at the historical HERITAGE PLACE TRAIN STATION. We do an amazing BAREFOOT CREATIVITY WALK with BAREFOOT SUE! We do all these things and more. We are a family gone on a long weekend vacation together. 40 of us. We click and clack in the writing room day and night. We stop writing long enough to break bread together three times a day (Called to the kitchen by the flickering of the writing room lights and presented with delectable food for every meal provided by volunteers and sponsors). We huddle in small groups and large ones, talking about writerly and nonwriterly things. We do a MIDNIGHT READING on the SUNDAY NIGHT…sitting around a large table in the kitchen (let’s just call it a mess hall) reading the fresh unedited words from our manuscripts to the other gathered writers. We are, for 3 short days every year, a family.

Enter 2020.

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A screenshot of yours truly during one of the MNM 2020 Quarantine Edition WRITING SPRINTS. I chopped out all the other little Brady Bunch ZOOM squares. Our screens were filled with writers writing…quietly together. ❤ It really works, people! Motivates!

We did ZOOM meetings this time around. We wore pajamas and goofy hats and ate together and laughed. It was different. It was very different. But thanks to the gracious and tireless organizing committee, our family found to a new way to be together…to reach out and share. We even did the Midnight Reading.

MUCH THANKS AND LOVE TO: Karen Wehrstein, Colum McKnight, Jennifer Turney, Heather Cotic, Krystyne Taylor-Smith, Shellie Westlake, Sharon Bacon, and, David Bruce Patterson. These generous souls brought our happy family together in a new and vibrant way. Much things have been cancelled during Covid-19. Thanks to this group who thought outside the box and made the changes necessary to keep our little light aflame. The MNM did not happen in Huntsville this year, no. But we carried on…we came…we wrote words. We persisted.

There’s always next year, right? HUNTSVILLE CAN WAIT.

See you there, MNM family!

YOU TOO Can Participate in the 2020 Covid Inspired STAYATHOME Muskoka Novel Writing Marathon!

It’s time for the Muskoka Novel Marathon once again!

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So, the marathon is different this year. It usually takes place in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada…in ONE ROOM. 40 writers gather for 72 hours and write 40 novels. But with the little pandemic and all, that’s not possible. This will be the first time it hasn’t happened since its inception 19 years ago. Tragic, yes. We DO LOVE OUR WEEKEND NOVEL WRITING GETAWAY IN PARADISE. It’s a highlight of the year for us regulars.

This year, anyone can participate. You can REGISTER HERE. If that link doesn’t work properly, you can click the clickable link to register on the home page, which I linked above.

Fundraising this year is not mandatory, but they do hope we each bring a little something to the table. Poke around on the site to learn more about the marathon. Essentially, it’s about writers getting some quality writing time while raising funds for area literacy programs. It’s actually quite incredible–we eat all our meals together, we click away at our laptops in the same room, we drink endless amounts of coffee. It’s a pure unadulterated blast!

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This year, it’s from the comfort of your own home. They’ll have some communication going on online. It won’t be the same, but the connection will still be there. The writing will still be there.

It’s open to all who wish to register. Give it a shot. What are you doing the weekend of JULY 17-20? Stop everything, get your bum in chair and write some words!

(MY DONATION PAGE HAS BEEN SET UP – IF YOU WISH TO DONATE TO THE CAUSE, HERE’S A LINK THAT GOES DIRECTLY TO MY PERSONAL PAGE! MUCH THANKS IN ADVANCE! 100% of the donations go directly toward the YMCA literacy programs!)

 

Muskoka Novel Marathon – Online Covid19 Edition

Well, now I’ve gone and done it! I told myself I was going to take a year off from the Muskoka Novel Marathon. I have a new book coming out (THE CAMINO CLUB) and I thought the 72 hour marathon less than 2 months before launch was just too much me-time to take. I wanted to remain open, just in case.

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The Active Living Centre in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada—where the yearly Muskoka Novel Marathon magic usually happens.

As it turns out, a pandemic has struck. So everything has changed. The whole world has changed. Including the magic of the Muskoka Novel Marathon. For the first time ever, this event will not take place in one room in one building in one little northern Ontario town. This year’s MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON will not be 40 writers in one room writing 40 novels in 72 hours.

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I will be sitting in the WRITERS’ ROOM in spirit only this year. Writing from home will definitely not be the same. I’ll miss my fellow MNM participants greatly. Here I was planning to give those poor people a break from my ME-ness this year!

We will be spread far and wide, in our own homes, eating alone or with our loved ones. It’s strange and shocking. I can’t fathom the world without the yearly escape of the MNM. It’s a rare event that, if experienced, all writers cherish. Writing in one room together, stopping for meals to break bread together, to laugh, to compare words, to cry, to vex, to prank. Sigh.

But I did say WE. As it turns out, I guess I do have the schedule that would afford me the ability to participate. I mean, I’ll be home anyway, right? ALSO—full disclosure: The biggest reason I wasn’t going this year was that I felt like I should give my fellow participants a break. I can be a little MUCH sometimes. When I’m doing something that is high intensity–SAY, WRITING A NOVEL IN 72 HOURS–I get a little high intensity myself. I know I can be exhausting at these things, because I exhaust myself. So, I was going to sit this one out to give them an extra year to recuperate.

Usually the marathon registration costs $100. This may sound like a lot of money to fork over for the opportunity to spend 72 hours writing. To those people, I just say, “You’re crazy!” Value your words. That $100 buys 3 meals a day for 3 days, as well as unlimited coffee and snacks. AND a place to stay for 3 days. AND the magical camaraderie of like-minded people. You’re camping in a room with 39 other writers for three days and being fed and caffeinated non-stop. Take my $100, please!

This year, registration is free. And though they ask registrants to participate in fundraising, it is not mandatory. As important as LITERACY is, there are a lot of people out of jobs right now–either permanently or temporary. Fundraising for literacy could prove to be a heavy unfruitful burden for sure. There are a few very important causes right now that should not lose our focus, including bail funds and Black Lives Matter.

So, the usual push for fundraising is gone. And as the marathon is online for the first time, I guess it opens it up for people outside the immediate area as well.

This will be my 12th marathon. I’m registered and counting down the days. Hopefully I can stay on track and get a few words written from home. I hear there’s some online things being planned too, where participants can interact. Maybe some ZOOMS, etc. I’m looking forward to seeing what the organizers come up with.

I DID ask for a DONATION PAGE. So if you’re so inclined I would be thrilled if you were to sponsor this cyber-MNM. I’m certain the marathon will fall WAY SHORT of its annual close to $30,000 fundraising achievement. Any amount will help support the ongoing literacy programs of Muskoka/Simcoe county YMCA.

We are WRITERS HELPING READERS READ. You can be READERS HELPING WRITERS HELP READERS READ if you wish. Do you have it in you?

I will be receiving a donation page soon and will share it once it’s live. In light of the current world situation, I will not be doing very much canvassing for funds. But I will make the link available. STAY TUNED!

Thanks so much in advance!