Sometimes just being nominated is a win, at least it is for me. My book, A Long Ways from Home, just got shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Award.
The book was chosen from scores of entries to the Bony Blithe Awards which every year recognizes the best in Canadian light mysteries. The Bony Blithe Award (officially the Bloody Words Light Mystery Award) is an annual Canadian award that celebrates traditional, feel-good mysteries.
Now in its sixth year, the award is for a “mystery book that makes us smile” and includes everything from laugh-out-loud to gentle humour to good old-fashioned stories with little violence or gore – in short, books that are fun to read.
The award along with a cash prize of $1,000 will be presented at a conference and gala awards dinner on May 26, 2017 at the prestigious High Park Club in Toronto.
Wish me luck. I hope I win, too. But quite frankly I already have. Writing books is a lonely business. Just me and my head and my imagination. It is a bit crazy up there. Okay, quite a bit crazy. What makes it sane is that other people, readers, come into this world. They take my imaginary world and make it real. It lives and breathes and walks and talks. For them, and for me, it is not some imaginary escape. It is real. Readers make writing worthwhile. Without readers, writers would be shouting their words down into a canyon. All we would hear is our echo. They make it real.
So, too, does this nomination. It takes a humble series about a Cree RCMP officer from northern Alberta, learning to love the simple and joyful way of life in small town Newfoundland, and makes it real.
The nomination, or even winning the award, does not guarantee any success in sales or profile, but it does give the book, another sense of status in the real world. Out there, outside my head. It adds an air of credibility to my writing endeavour, a recognition that all those hours spent inside my head, are valued and have worth. In the real world.
I am writing this article/blog post because I want it to serve as a small beacon of hope to other writers. In particular, for those writers who, gasp… are independent or self-published writers. To challenge the popular belief that the words we put on paper are not as important as those with a publisher’s imprint. That we are simply filling pages with our ill-thought and poorly written books.
Now, it’s true that some self-published books are not as professionally done as other books and some are not well written or edited or proofread. The truth is that publishers don’t have to worry about those books or those writers, because they will not be around in the business very long anyway.
A Long Ways from Home is the 5th book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. There’s a good reason why the first four books were not nominated for an award. But in each book, I made a commitment to writing, producing, editing and proofreading the next book better than the previous one. It took time, effort, energy and money, most of it mine.
If you are an independent writer or self-published author, rejoice with me that my book, independently written and produced, is up for an award. But make the same commitment to write your next book better. To invest in editing and proofreading services and support. To become a better writer. We actually don’t need more books on the market, I agree with the big publishers on that. We need more well-written books on the market from a wider range of people and voices.
Now, I don’t expect to win the Bony Blithe Award this year. It’s my first year as a finalist and two of my fellow nominees have won before. Another, Alan Bradley writes the fabulous Flavia de Luce series featuring a 12-year-old female chemist who hangs out in cemeteries. It is a great series and I totally recommend it. But I am pleased for the nomination. Over the moon, really. For all the reasons I have noted above.
But just in case, I have prepared a few remarks. Let me thank the Academy right now. I always wanted to say that. Haven’t you. I am pleased to be with you this evening. Special thanks to all the writers and authors and family members who have helped me along the way. But this award is dedicated to all independent and self-published writers out there, who are wondering if you are good enough, if your writing is strong enough, if you really do have a story to tell.
Remember the words of Stephen King who’s had lots of scary moments:
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”