Sunday, 4 May 2008

Phyllis Smallman - Marguerita Nights

rain, wind, cool, temps 8

We need the rain here, so this is great. Canadiens lost last night - so they're out of the play-offs. The great thing about sports is that there's always next year.

Will write this morning then head, about noon, down to Colchester, Vermont, for my 2pm event at the Burnham library. Thanks so much to Phil for pointing out that my original plan, of going to Burnham, Vermont, was flawed.

We now have 2 ducks in the pond! have named them Rosa and Flora, of course - though we suspect that is also flawed. More like Rosa and Phil probably. We'll see.

As I mentioned in last night's post, I have the very great pleasure of being a friend of Phyllis Smallman - friend and fan (though we've never met, I've read her book). She won the inaugural ARTHUR ELLIS AWARD FOR BEST UNPUBLISHED NOVEL (aka The Unhanged Arthur) last year for her terrific book MARGUERITA NIGHTS.

Since the new Authur Ellis nominations were just announced I asked Phyllis to blog today, and tell us what winning last year has meant to her. Here she is:

Hello Louise,

You were asking what it meant to me to win the Unhanged Arthur from the Crime Writers of Canada. Well, it's the difference between nothing and everything - the difference from having a mystery on my computer and a published book in my hand. A year ago being published was still a dream and yesterday I went into a bookstore on Salt Spring Island and saw my books on display on the table closest to the door. Can you imagine my excitement?

Last April I went to a Mystery Writer's of America conference and listened to a panel of editors and agents. After talking about the difficulty of dealing with all the query letters and manuscripts they receive, one of the editors said, "The problem is there are just too many people writing books." Not what I wanted to hear. No editor will look at an unagented manuscript so the slush pile has moved from the publisher's office to the agent's office and now the average agent gets 75 to 100 query letters a week. That's just a letter to say, "May I please send you my manuscript?" How many of those letters do you think actually get read? The Arthur Ellis contest for unpublished manuscripts is a real chance to be seen and maybe published.

I'm very grateful to you, not only for getting the idea, but for carrying through with your vision. Most of us don't follow through with our good ideas. Without you there wouldn't be an Unhanged Arthur award and I'd still be sending out query letters to add to the slush pile.

Last Wednesday I was on a panel at the Vancouver library. We were there for the announcement of this year's Arthur Ellis finalists. Every person on the panel opened an envelope to read out the short list for each category. When William Deverell read out your name I nearly stood up and cheered. My emotions were a strange mix of pride, delight and completion, although why I should feel pride in an accomplishment that is yours alone I'm not sure. So what does it all mean to me? The earth and the moon and the stars and a dream come true. Not much.


Oh, Phyllis - thank you. You talked about 'completion'. I know that feeling. it's how I felt when you not only won, but were picked up to be published my McArthur. I felt my obligation to the Gods of Mercy was done. I'm so happy for you, and I'm happy for me. And for Michael, who is the co-founder of this award, lovely man - and the CWC - GREAT organization!

I almost took the paragraphs out where Phyllis thanks me. I didn't want any of you thinking that was the purpose. I really debated, and had my fingers on the delete buttons...but then I realized this was Phyllis's voice, and not mine. It wouldn't be appropriate to decide for her.

So, thank you Phyllis - and congratulations once again to this year's nominated books in the Best Unpublished Catagory....

Best Unpublished First Crime Novel: the Unhanged Arthur (cash award from McArthur & Company)

Patricia Flewwelling, Mummer’s the Word
D.J. McIntosh, The Witch of Babylon
Amy Tector, The Paris Letters
Kevin Thornton, Condemned

Good luck to all!!!

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