Saturday, August 15, 2009

How I started and finished writing "Blood and Groom"

I had a couple of other books in the works in the summer of 2007, but I suddenly came up with an idea – from out of nowhere – for another book. I shelved the other two (they’re still in the works...) and got busy with what eventually became “Blood and Groom.”

From the summer of 2007 through Christmas 2007, I worked on it now and then – mostly on weekends. In roughly six months, I wrote about 162 pages – most of which were written during Christmas holidays when I had lots of time off work and was between courses in my MA.

Then I did something rather stupid...

Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) has annual awards for crime writing (fiction and non-fiction) in Canada. The awards are called the Arthur Ellis Awards (named after Canada’s last official hangman). A few years ago, Crime Writers of Canada announced a new award category: The Unhanged Arthur.
The Unhanged Arthur is for unpublished, aspiring novelists.

To enter into this category, one must have a completed manuscript. The process is thus:
  • Send the first 25 to 30 pages of a completed manuscript to CWC, along with an entry form and whatever other paperwork they require.
  • From all the entries (I believe there were about 120 entries the year I participated), a list of ten finalists would be selected.
  • These ten finalists would be contacted by mid-to-late February.
  • Upon being selected as a finalist, the contestant would have one week to submit the completed manuscript to CWC for further judging.
  • The winner and runners-up would be announced at the Arthur Ellis Awards soiree in early June.
Notice that I used bold for the word completed????
Well, the in third week of February, I received notification that I had been selected as one of the ten finalists. This was on a Tuesday morning. I had until 5:00 pm the following Monday to deliver the completed manuscript to CWC.
Ooops!!!! I hadn't worked on it at all since Christmas break, and the 162 page half-finished book was still a 162 page half-finished book.
Luckily, the third week in Februray happened to be Reading Week – a week off from teaching and from my MA courses... THANK GOD!
I chain smoked, guzzled coffee, hardly slept, and the 162 page manuscript became 297 pages by the time I hand delivered it to CWC.
I didn’t make it any further in the contest than that, but at least having the deadline made me finish the book. I was a bit disappointed in June when I heard the Arthur announcements for the Unhanged Arthur category... and my name wasn’t there.
On the bright side, at least I now had a completed manuscript and lots of time during the summer to fine tune it and then try to find a publisher... which you’ll hear about in my next post!

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