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Nov. 14, 2019 | Thursday
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Writers’ Circle’s Sharon Frayne wins 72-hour competition
Sharon Frayne, member of NOTL Writers' Circle and Muskoka Novel Marathon winner. (supplied)

The Writers’ Circle and The Lake Report contributor Sharon Frayne ferociously turned out a novel in 72 hours for the Muskoka Novel Marathon in July and on Saturday she was informed her novel won first place in the Young Adult category.

Each year 40 writers sit down to turn out their best writing, quickly. This year the marathon was held at the Active Living Centre in Huntsville. The writing event serves as a fundraiser for the YMCA Literacy Program; Frayne raised $1,200 for the organization.

Each author tests their limits and mental stamina as they battle exhaustion to complete a novel on the spot, equipped with just one page of notes. Frayne said she wrote fiercely between cat naps on the cot provided.

In those three days, Frayne wrote 180 pages of emotional content that resulted in the young adult novel A Chain of Broken Hearts, which will be presented to Candian publishers for consideration by a literary agent as the winning title in the genre. She said she now has about six weeks to revise and polish the novel before moving forward.

Frayne said she spent several months leading up to the event developing the plot and characters, though when it came time to write she dove in and fully immersed herself in telling the story.

“It was an incredible experience - exhausting and exhilarating,” she added.

Though the novel marathon was a once in a lifetime experience for Frayne, she is no stranger to writing, or to winning awards for her work.

She taught English and visual arts as a high school teacher for the Halton District School Board until she retired five years ago and moved back Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“I’m a Niagara native, returned to my roots after retirement with my husband Bill French and exuberant yellow Labrador, Bala,” she said.

Now, she has picked up her passion for art and writing with gusto.

This summer she was also named the first-place winner for the South Simcoe Arts Festival in July for her short story Moonlight with Tom Thomson.

It also won the 2019 Phyllis Smallman Award for Great Storytelling and was first shared in St. Catharines at the Canadian Author’s Association’s Painters, Prose and Poets event.

The short story is set to be published in an upcoming issue of The Lake Report as a Writers’ Circle contribution. It written in accompaniment of a painting she created. The story and the painting are to be experienced side by side, she said.

“I have painted a moonlight scene in the style of the Group of Seven that accompanies it,” Frayne said.

She is a member of the Writers’ Circle and has taken on the role of communications for the group.

“I manage the website and newsletter for the Writers’ Circle and encourage our members to contribute to The Lake Report,” she said.

It’s important for the members of the group to be able to share their stories with each other, she added. The group provides feedback and inspiration in each other’s writing.

“It helps celebrate the talent that is in this town,” she said.

Frayne has also published another novel, Caught Between the Walls which is set in NOTL between 1817 and 1923.

“It tells 10 suspenseful tales of various inmates and prisoners who were held in the old jail, and includes a story about Maria Rye and the British Home Children who were trained there. One of the chapters in this novel won Best Short Story at the Eden Mills Writers Fringe Festival in 2018,” she said.

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