Eight years ago it was still creepy when, if someone asked you where you met so-and-so, you said, “Oh, I met him online.” It still had an eerie, stalker-ish feel about it.
These days, people connect with others online all the time. And these are real people, many of them normal, whose lives aren’t that different from yours and mine. Only the odd person turns out to be a bizarro psychopath who lives in a sewer and likes to wear raw meat. Typically you can tell who these people are by their online posts. It’s not possible to hide when you’re that whacked.
Online message boards, now and eight years ago, are, in fact, a great place to meet people with a common interest. They often provide a forum for people to share information and stories about the topic that most interests them. For me, it’s writing. In 2006, wanting to write for publication and knowing nothing about writing or publishing, I joined the forums of an online writing community, Absolute Write. At first I lurked because it was vast, international, and intimidating as hell. It was also my first foray into forums and I felt understandably cautious about revealing myself to a million strangers, some of whom might live in raw garbage and enjoy wearing hats made of pork chops.
But, over time, I got comfortable with the community. I learned who to avoid and whose opinions to trust, but most of all I learned a TON about writing and publishing. Many of the members of this forum are internationally published authors or big-time publishing agents, although most of them participate incognito.
As soon as you reveal that you’re Canadian on a site like this one — which is largely populated by Americans, with a few Europeans here and there — other Canadians start coming out to you. “My name is Caroline, and I am Canadian.” One of the first to reveal himself was Kevin. Not only was he Canadian, he lived in my province, not more than a few hours’ drive from my house. And he was one of the founders and organizers of a growing writers’ conference. He sent me the details and asked if I’d be interested in coming to his shindig. Oh, boy, was I interested! But, of course, I was terrified. I wasn’t a real writer; I didn’t even play one on TV. I’d never published fiction. I just sat in my little home office and dabbled. Conferences were for real writers. I’d be fingered as the impostor, the fool. But Kevin promised his conference would be welcoming and friendly. I begged a couple of people from my writers’ group to come with me and I signed up for the weekend.
And it was awesome! You can read about my various Ontario Writers’ Conference experiences here and here. Oh, and here. I met other writers, attended workshops, learned. But best of all, I met Kevin Craig, and he wasn’t even wearing an outfit made of rotting pork. As one of the organizers, he was busy but made sure he introduced me to other writers from the same forums, and to some of his writer friends and fellow-organizers. It felt like I was home.
In the eight years I’ve known Kevin, we’ve both enjoyed some success (mine far more modest than his) and have cheered and supported one another. He even arranged for me to do a reading of my newly released little debut novel at the conference, for which I’ll be forever grateful.
Over the years, I’ve had the immense privilege to call Kevin Craig not only a fellow writer, but also beta reader and best of all a friend. He’s a champion of writers everywhere and a writer of wonderful novels for young adults. I celebrate his success and take great joy in watching him gain confidence with each novel he publishes. He is only now realizing how talented he is.
And so, I present the cover of the latest young adult novel by my friend and mentor, Kevin Craig. Burn Baby Burn Baby is scheduled for release by Curiosity Quills Press on December 11, 2014. Get a copy and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
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.
About the Author
Kevin Craig is the author of three previous novels; Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, and The Reasons. He is a 4-time winner of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. Kevin is also a playwright and has had eight 10-minute plays produced. His poetry, short stories, memoir and articles have been published internationally. Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference and a long-time member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR). He is represented by literary agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.