Category: YA Reviews

A Sure-Fire List to Help Motivate Your Inner Writer Into Actually Writing! Follow This List Carefully and You Will Be Writing Again!

Have I done a list lately? I should keep a list of the lists I list. Or is that list the lists I keep?

In a writing slump? Finding it hard to finish that Great Canadian (American, Armenian or otherwise) Novel? Trying to dedicate more time to writing this year because you’re one of those people who makes New Year Resolutions? Follow this list to a tee and you should find yourself back on the writing wagon. If you’re already on the writing wagon and you follow this list, you will find yourself even more connected to your writing. My point? Follow this list and you will write more.

The questionnaire
Do not skip items on this list. Follow it closely, or there is no hope for you. If you falter, you might go gently into the night and get lost forever in the vast vacuous land of NOT WRITING. Proceed with caution and a willingness to adapt yourself to the points made on the upcoming list you are about to read…

How to Write When You’re Not Feeling Writerly (OR When You’re Feeling Stabby and Murderous Towards Words, How Do You Embrace Them and Make Them Work in Your Favour…Even Though You Hate Them)


  1. Turn OFF the social media and Click the wifi to OFF. I know it’s impossible to imagine, but these things are distractions…killers of the imagination, even while they are stimulating it. If you follow this first item in this list, you will significantly increase your outflow of words. The increase could quite possibly be tenfold.
  2. See the first item in this list. Quite frankly, if you got this far in the list you aren’t following the steps properly.
  3. ARE YOU STILL HERE. Stop reading this. Turn off the internet and write.
  4. Don’t make me yell at you. SIT. WRITE. Open only one window…whatever program it is you use to write with.
  5. I’m gonna keep this list short and to the point. Only 5 items. Item 5 is CLOSE THIS WINDOW. SIT. WRITE. <<This advice works if you’re a beginner writer, or if you’re someone like that up-and-comer Stephen King…who has a couple books under his belt.

If you’re still here, clearly you’re not heeding my warnings. If you’d rather read than write, click on the image below to get yourself over to GOODREADS to enter to win a paperback copy of my latest novel, BURN BABY BURN BABY. The contest ends JANUARY 11, 2015!

goodreads

If you’re on INSTAGRAM, follow the steps in the picture below to win a paperback copy of BURN BABY BURN BABY in the INSTAGRAM contest! The easiest way to enter this one would be to go to Instagram and repost this image from my account. Instagram is sometimes tricky with resizing, etc.

Follow the Directions in this image to enter to win a paperback of Burn Baby Burn Baby on Instagram!
Follow the Directions in this image to enter to win a paperback of Burn Baby Burn Baby on Instagram!

Okay…now there is still a chance for you. Turn it all off. SIT. WRITE. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. No magical equation. No tricks or gimmicks. To write more all you need to do is write more. One word in front of the other without the everyday distractions that weigh you down and mess with your creativity and drive. SIT. WRITE.

Bullies, Bullying and Bullied – The Real Bs Behind Burn Baby Burn Baby

WallpaperWhen I started writing Burn Baby Burn Baby I knew it would be a difficult journey. Not the writing part. I knew the writing would flow like water. The story had percolated in my head for a couple weeks prior to the Muskoka Novel Marathon, where I wrote the novel over the course of a long weekend. The story had wheels. I would just have to drive it home.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000 The difficult journey was going to be the revisiting of the whole bully thing. I still flinch when I remember high school. Though it’s decades in my past, I just have to turn my thoughts to it for a second to conjure those sick-in-the-belly feelings. Waking up in the morning and thinking, ‘I can’t do this again.’ I had to be out of my mind to spend an entire weekend inside that bullied mindset in order to write Francis Fripp’s story!

wrapBut I did it. I had to. We are living in a world of TELL these days. With social media, we have the dangers of cyber bullying…but we also have the tools to shed light on the bullying, to stop it. SPEAK. In my day that really wasn’t an option. We suffered our bullies in silence. We ate our lunch in the bathroom stalls. We loitered near the office when we had free time, hoping the distance from the principal’s desk created a safe enough bully-free zone.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000 I know it still exists. I know there are still people suffering at the hands of bullies. Adults and teens alike…thanks to the phenomenon of workplace bullying. But I think it’s getting better. I hope it’s getting better.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000When I set out to write Francis’s story, I purposely steered away from the clique situation. I’m too long out of high school for that. Nowadays I see teens of different cliques hanging out together. I no longer understand that social situation. I was a punkrocker in the early eighties. The lines were firmly drawn in the sand. The punks cliqued, the sportos cliqued, the rockers/skids cliqued, the preppies cliqued. If you belonged to one of these cliques, you did not talk to people from other cliques.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000For this reason, poor Francis needed to have a visually noticeable reason to attract a bully’s attention. I gave him horrendous scars courtesy of an abusive father. He became a burn victim struggling to fit in in a world where beauty has become a social epidemic. Sadly, those living with scars and handicaps do become victims of bullies. As hard as it is to fathom. Bullies look for weaknesses. Physical ones make their jobs less difficult.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000In short, I created a character who was perfectly set up to be bullied. Then I moved in for the kill. I recalled my bullies, I amalgamated them into one horrendous beast with no social graces, and I set him on Francis. Why? Because I wanted to talk about bullying. I wanted to take the reader into the mind of one who is suffering at the hands of his abuser. I certainly didn’t want to beat anyone over the head with a lesson on anti-bullying. I just wanted to tell a story…and I hoped the story would somehow get the point across that the days of bullying are due to end. If we who were bullied speak up against it, we might start a dialogue that will rumble through social media and strike a chord.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000Francis Fripp is not alone. I loved writing his story. I also had a very difficult time revisiting those feelings. But it was worth it. I hope I managed to create a likeable character…one that invokes not only your sympathy, but one who conjures a symbol of strength. Because Francis is a victim, but he’s also just a boy…trying to love and be loved, trying to navigate the complicated terrain of high school. He just happens to live with visible scars…but we all carry scars. They don’t need to be visible to be there. We’re all vulnerable and we’re all capable of great acts of heroism. I hope you find something to relate to in Francis’s story. What would I like readers to take away from it besides the obvious BULLYING IS BAD message? That none of us are ONE thing. We are not defined by one aspect of our person. Everybody has a story. What you see when you look at a person is just a tiny glittering spark of sun-caught ice breaking the surface. Most of who we are is under the surface. We are, each of us, icebergs waiting to be discovered.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000jst_burn_baby_burn_1000jst_burn_baby_burn_1000

BUY YOUR COPY TODAY. WHEREVER PAPERBACKS OR EBOOKS ARE SOLD.

ADVANCED PRAISE FOR BURN BABY BURN BABY:

“Kevin Craig’s books just keep getting better & better. A must read.”

“I read this book in one evening, while sitting in my rocking chair, wrapped in a fleecy blanket, chewing on my fingernails (especially during the last seven chapters or so). Actually, I believe this is the ONLY book I’ve read during 2014 (out of 83 books so far), that I have stayed up past my bedtime to finish reading it. It was that good.”

“As you can see, I highly recommend this book for those who love YA books – I’ve been a YA reader for years and, if I don’t like a book, I’m not afraid to say so. This book ranks five stars on my list.”

“Wow! I really loved this book.”

“The characters are perfect this author knows how to write characters that are realistic yet likable! You will quickly fall for Frances the main guy of the story. The entire cast was great! I used Cast cause it played out like a TV show in my head when I read it.”

Matthew Quick, or Why I’m Allowed to Write for Adults & Young Adults!

When I first discovered Matthew Quick, I was at an interesting crossroads in my own writing journey. I had written a couple novels for adults and I was pondering writing for the young adult market. For some reason, I got it in my head that I couldn’t do both. One could either be an adult author OR a young adult author. I don’t know why I thought this, but I did. I’ve made it a point throughout my writing journey to always remind myself that THERE ARE NO RULES. There are guidelines, there is good advice and there is bad advice…but there are no steadfast rules. Writing is what you want it to be.

And yet, here I was…trying to make this decision. And while on the fence, I really sweated about it. I loved the darker issues I could explore writing contemporary adult novels, but I also loved the idea of exploring dark issues in a teenager setting…the coming of age in the high school environment novel. I was weighing the pros and cons of the two markets, because, as I said, I thought it had to be EITHER OR.

Enter Matthew Quick. No…I’m not going to be so bold as to call him my savior, or anything as nutty as that. I’m just gonna say that he reminded me of my own first rule of the Writer Club. The first rule of Writer Club is that there are no rules in Writer Club. He didn’t do this right away, mind you. At the time, I was mass-consuming YA novels…as part of my research in the market. Well, that’s what I was telling myself. Truth be told, I LOVE reading YA. But I was reading solely YA to get a feel for the landscape of the market. I was dissecting books for themes, formula, what-have-you.

I picked up BOY21 for several reasons. Because it seemed to have strong male and female ‘leads’. Because it was sportscentric. Because the blurb really caught my fancy. Sometimes, I’ll admit right here and now, I am sold by a cover. Or, at least, I am gripped by the cover and moved to learn more about a book. BOY21 had an awesome cover. Anyway, I picked it up and I read it. And I fell in love with it.

You know when you discover a novelist and then check out there other books and get excited because you get to spend more time with them? Well, immediately after I finished BOY21 I searched to find out what other Matthew Quick offerings there were on tap at the Kindle store.

HOLD THE PHONE!

The Silver Linings Playbook. Can it be? A contemporary ADULT novel?! Oh my God! He writes for adults AND young adults! YES!

Okay, so Matthew Quick may not be the first author in the history of authorship to do this. But he was the author I discovered doing it when I needed the permission to do it myself. When I needed to realize that it could actually be done. And not only was he writing for both markets, but it would seem he wrote quirky characters. I wrote quirky characters, too. I immediately purchased The Silver Linings Playbook. And I devoured it. And I thought it was a masterpiece!

Click on the book covers to read my reviews of these two Matthew Quick novels:

boy21

silver

I later went through Quick’s full catalogue and loved all his books. I eagerly await his forthcoming THE GOOD LUCK OF RIGHT NOW! I have it pre-ordered. And on February 11th, when I wake up, it will have been magically delivered to my Kindle! I know what I’ll be reading that day!

Click on the book cover below to read the synopsis of Quick’s latest offering:

TGLORN-full-cover

Okay, so on the surface this post may seem like a commercial for Matthew Quick’s books. But I swear to you, the whole purpose of the post is to tell writers to keep reminding themselves of the fluidity of the rules they should live by. When you find yourself questioning whether or not you can do something, DO IT. Try it, anyway. Don’t listen to people who say do this, don’t do that. I was very close to saying goodbye to one of the markets in question, even though I loved both! It was through my discovery of Matthew Quick’s novels that I found the permission to carry on carrying on. Because I saw that he accomplished writing for both adults and young adults, I knew that I could take the same path. And I did. And I for one am extremely grateful for Matthew Quick.

But seriously, check out his books. You’ll love them! (-:

Book Reviews – Try This Book

Just a quick post to let you know I’ve started a book review blog. I’ve been following them and reading them for a couple of years now and always wanted to try it out myself. The first review is up and I’ll be posting the next in a couple of days. Reading an amazing new YA that I can’t wait to review! You can find the review blog here:

TRY THIS BOOK ON FOR SIZE

Feel free to FOLLOW the blog. (-: