The Muskoka Novel Marathon (MNM) has done it again. In July, 40 writers sequestered themselves in the Active Living Centre to each try to type out a novel in less than 72 hours. Today, most of them gathered again to celebrate the funds they raised in the process for adult literacy programs in Huntsville and receive awards for their efforts.
The total raised was $36,000 with all of the funds going to support literacy services at the YMCA employment office in Huntsville.
“YMCA Huntsville Literacy Services is extremely grateful for this contribution to our community,” says Kate Meeks, who shared marathon convening duties with Susan Kulkarni. “A donation of this size will help over 100 recipients receive access to literacy programs. Many thanks to the committee members and writers who made this possible.”
In addition to raising much-needed funds for literacy, it is also a judged writing competition with the winners’ manuscripts sent directly to two publishing professionals. For the Young Adult/Juvenile category, it’s children’s book editor Peter Carver of Red Deer Press. For the Adult category, it’s literary agent Chris Bucci, who represents former Muskoka Novel Marathon Best Novel winner Amy Stuart, whose MNM project eventually became the national bestseller Still Mine.
This year’s Adult winner is Kevin Craig of Toronto, who has won four times previously in the YA/Juvenile category, for his manuscript I Will Tell The Night. Honourable mention went to Huntsville’s Kathleen May for her manuscript Crack.
The YA/Juvenile winner is Lori Manson of Toronto, for her manuscript Ned and Nora Stone.
2016’s top fundraiser – for the fifth year in a row – was Cheryl Cooper of Bracebridge, whose final total is $3,050, earning her the Remington Award.
The Most Prolific Award, for the writer who puts the most words on the page during the MNM, and the peer-voted “Bum-in-Chair” Award were both won for the second year in a row by Lenore Butcher of Woodstock, Ontario, who completed a staggering 341 pages, equalling 72,400 words.
The Rockstar Award, for second-most prolific, was won by Michael Codato of Gravenhurst, who wrote 261 pages, or 62,300 words.
In other peer-voted awards: the Techie Award, for the writer who most assists other writers with technical issues, was won for the second time in a row by Dawn Huddlestone of Huntsville. The Spirit Award, for the writer who most embodies the spirit of the Novel Marathon, was won for the second year in a row by Dale Long of Uxbridge, Ontario. And two first-time writers tied for the Rookie of the Year Award: Rebecca Senese of Toronto and Cindy Watson of Bracebridge.
Funds raised by the MNM writers go to the YMCA’s Literary Services in Huntsville. The program’s Team Leader, Nancy West, says the money will be used for upgrading the program’s curriculum, providing needed professional development opportunities for the teachers, and raising awareness in the community that literacy services are available, since those who need them most are the most difficult to reach. Government funds provided to the program don’t cover these needs, she notes.
“Every year you guys blow me away–how much money can 40 people raise?” West told the writers during the event. “It’s just incredible. It’s what you embody and what you believe in, what you embrace as important to you. You couldn’t write what you write if you didn’t have literacy. It’s easy to take for granted when you have so many adults who just don’t have it, who find themselves stuck and want to get unstuck. This is what you guys do: you get people unstuck.”
The Muskoka Novel Marathon is an annual 72-hour writing retreat and literacy fundraiser that takes place in the Active Living Centre in the Canada Summit Centre in Huntsville. Next year’s Muskoka Novel Marathon will take place July 14-17, 2017. Learn more at muskokanovelmarathon.com.
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