Thunder Road & Tombstone Blues Shortlisted At Manitoba Book Awards!

I’m very excited to say that both of my books are shortlisted for awards at this year’s Manitoba Book Awards, Thunder Road for the Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction, and Tombstone Blues for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. I’m also very pleased to see so many of my friends on the shortlists as well: congratulations David Annandale, Samantha Beiko, Anita DaherKaren Dudley and Janice MacDonald!

Being nominated for the genre fiction award is especially wonderful, as Michael was a friend and mentor when I was getting started on the writing path. One of my first blog posts was about what Michael means to me. If you haven’t given his Monty Haaviko crime novels a chance, please do, you’re in for a treat.

Congrats to all the nominees, and see you at the gala!

Write on!

Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-FictionPrix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais

Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One / Aimée Craft / Purich Publishing Ltd.

Canadian Policing in the 21st Century / Robert Chrismas / McGill-Queen’s University Press.

The Constructed Mennonite: History, Memory, and the Second World War / Hans Werner / University of Manitoba Press

“Indians Wear Red”: Colonialism, Resistance and Aboriginal Street Gangs / Elizabeth Comack, Lawrence Deane, Larry Morrissette & Jim Silver / Fernwood Publishing

Best Illustrated Book of the YearMeilleur livre illustré de l’année

300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba / Bill Wright & Dave Craig / Great Plains Publications / design by Relish New Brand Experience

Confessions sans pénitence / Lise Gaboury-Diallo / Les Éditions du Blé / graphiste Philippe Dupas /  illustrations par Denis Devigne

Itty Bitty Bits / Anita Daher / Peanut Butter Press / illustrations by Wendy Bailey / design by Melanie Matheson, Blue Claw Studio

Would Someone Please Answer the Parrot! / by Beryl Young / Peanut Butter Press / llustrations by Jason Doll / design by Lee Huscroft

Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book

Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One / Aimée Craft / Purich Publishing Ltd.

Happiness Threads, The Unborn Poems / Melanie Dennis Unrau / The Muse’s Company, J G Shillingford

The Lake and the Library / S.M. Beiko / ECW Press Ltd.

Carol Shields Winnipeg Book AwardPrix littéraire Carol-Shields de la ville de Winnipeg

Rebel Without a Pause: A Memoir / Nick Ternette / Roseway Publishing, an imprint of Fernwood Publishing

The Silent March / by C.M. Klyne / Self-published

Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg / text by Bartley Kives, photographs by Bryan Scott / Great Plains Publications

Tombstone Blues / Chadwick Ginther / Ravenstone Books, an imprint of Turnstone Press

The Wittenbergs / Sarah Klassen / Turnstone Press.

John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer

Jonathan Ball

Melanie Dennis Unrau

Laurelyn Whitt

Lansdowne Prize for Poetry | Prix Lansdowne de poésie

Sûtra /  J. R. Léveillé / Les Éditions du Blé

Tempo / Barthélemy Bolivar / Les Éditions du Blé

Tether / Laurelyn Whitt / Seraphim Editions

Manuela Dias Book Design of the YearPrix Manuela-Dias de conception graphique en édition

100 Masters: Only in Canada / Stephen Borys with Andrew Kear / the Winnipeg Art Gallery / design by Frank Reimer

300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba / Bill Wright & Dave Craig / published by Great Plains Publications /design by Relish New Brand Experience.

Confessions sans pénitence / Lise Gaboury-Diallo / Les Éditions du Blé / graphiste Philippe Dupas / illustrations par Denis Devigne

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow / William Dumas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press) / design by Relish New Brand Experience Inc. / illustrations by Leonard Paul

Powwow Counting in Cree / Penny M. Thomas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press), design by Relish New Brand Experience Inc., illustrations by Melinda Josie

Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

The Insistent Garden / Rosie Chard / NeWest Press

Sebastiano’s Vine / Carmelo Militano / Ekstasis Editions

Ten Lords A Leaping / C.C. Bennison / Doubleday Canada

Wolf River / Margaret Riddell / Self-published

The Wittenbergs / Sarah Klassen / Turnstone Press

Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba PublisherPrix Mary-Scorer pour le meilleur livre par un éditeur du Manitoba

300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated History of Brewing in Manitoba / Bill Wright and Dave Craig / Great Plains Publications

Condemned to Repeat: A Randy Craig Mystery / Janice MacDonald / Ravenstone, an imprint of Turnstone Press

Manitoba Butterflies: A Field Guide / Simone Hébert Allard / Turnstone Press

The Wittenbergs / Sarah Klassen / Turnstone Press

McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award – Younger Category

A Walk in Pirate’s Cove / Marisa Hochman / 36 Peonies Publishing Inc.

Powwow Counting in Cree / Penny M. Thomas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press),

Surviving the Hindenburg / Larry Verstraete / Sleeping Bear Press

McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award – Older Category

The Fall / Colleen Nelson / Great Plains Teen Fiction

The Gypsy King / Maureen Fergus / Penguin Canada Books Inc

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow / William Dumas / HighWater Press (an imprint of Portage & Main Press)

McNally Robinson Book of the Year

The Constructed Mennonite: History, Memory, and the Second World War/ Hans Werner / University of Manitoba Press

Kisiskatchewan: The Great River Road / Barbara Huck / Heartland Associates Inc.

The Secret Mask / Rick Chafe / Playwrights Canada Press

Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction (2012/2013)

Food for the Gods: An Epikurean Epic / Karen Dudley / Turnstone Press

Gethsemane Hall / David Annandale / Dundurn

Thunder Road / Chadwick Ginther/ Turnstone Press

The Manitoba Writers’ Guild would like to thank this year’s awards sponsors:

Canada Council for the Arts
Friesen’s
Manitoba Arts Council
McNally Robinson Booksellers
Manitoba Tourism, Culture, Sport and Consumer Protection
Prairie Fire Press Inc.
Winnipeg Arts Council
The Winnipeg Foundation
Winnipeg International Writers’ Festival.

The 2013 Manitoba Book Awards take place Sunday April 27, 2014 at the West End Cultural Centre. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the ceremonies begin at 7:00 pm. Admission is FREE.

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An Hour Of Writing A Day: February

So I decided to do this last month: An hour of new writing a day.

  1. 1017 words, on Thunder Road Book 3.
  2. 1050 words, on a Thunder Road ‘verse short story starring Tilda.
  3. 1062 words, on a Thunder Road ‘verse short story starring Tilda.
  4. 707 words, on an old short story (this one actually goes back to my time as Aqua Books’ Emerging Writer in Residence, July 2011).
  5. 526 words, on an old short story.
  6. 1133 words, on an old short story.
  7. 1200 words, on an old short story.
  8. 860 words, on Thunder Road Book 3.
  9. 784 words, on a Thunder Road ‘verse short story starring Tilda.
  10. 571 words, on a new short story. Might be TR ‘verse. Might not.
  11. 560 words, on a Thunder Road ‘verse short story starring Tilda.
  12. 402 words, on a Thunder Road ‘verse short story starring Tilda.
  13. 531 words, on a new werewolf story.
  14. 599 words, on a Thunder Road ‘verse short story starring Tilda.
  15. 868 words, on Thunder Road Book 3. In a second stint: 865 words, on a Thunder Road ‘verse short story starring Ted.
  16. 1051 words, on Thunder Road Book 3.
  17. 1364 words, on a new second world short story.
  18. 516 words, on a new second world short story.
  19. 442 words, noodling longhand on a new POV voice.
  20. 401 words, noodling longhand on a new POV voice.
  21. 451 words, noodling longhand on a new POV voice.
  22. 1093 words, on a new second world short story.
  23. 1190 words, on a new second world short story. In a second 30 minute stint: 666 words on a Thunder Road ‘verse story starring Ted.
  24. 1104 words, on a new second world short story.
  25. 742 words, noodling longhand on a second new POV voice.
  26. 620 words, noodling longhand on a second new POV voice.
  27. 596 words, on Thunder Road Book 3.
  28. 550 words, on Thunder Road Book 3.

Total words: 24521 (Four short stories started, two potential new novel voices, and three stories achieved first draft status. Plus I kept the wheels turning on Book 3)

What have I learned?

Nothing terribly new. I already knew that I my output was always better if it was the first thing I did in the morning. Most of those four digit word counts come from when I had time to write before work, or on a day off. Those nights were I wrote longhand were the ones where I just couldn’t bear to turn the computer back on. I spent most of my writing time last summer drafting longhand. It’s a nice switch from time to time. It had been years since I wrote that way, and it took some doing before it felt like I was actually writing instead of just making notes. Now that I’ve stretched out those muscles, I’d like to keep them current. It helps me be ready to write anywhere, anytime. It also helped to keep the siren call of the internet at bay.

I was glad I also snuck in a couple extra sessions when I was having a good day. I think I did that so I could justify taking a day off if necessary. I’m glad I didn’t, but going forward I may institute some sort of weekend policy, or have one weeknight where I allow myself to skive off. We’ll see. As spring approaches,  having earlier sunrises should help get me to my desk more often before work too, so that should help the word count.

As for the February output, I made some not insignificant progress on book three, drafted a story about Tilda, and started a new vignette about Ted. In non-Thunder Road related writing, I finished a draft of a piece I’ve wanted to write since 2011 and am hoping to submit to one of the noir anthologies currently open to submissions. The second world story isn’t connected to any of the previous worlds I’ve published in, and I’m curious what may come out of it. I think it will be a novella when I go back to revise it. Both of the pieces that only got one writing session each will probably lay fallow for a while, although never doubt the power of the werewolf as monster to keep me entertained. The longhand piece felt like the beginning of a novel. Actually, I know it wants to be a novel and so I’m going to let it sit too, barring another fully fleshed scene showing up. I’ve already got too many novels mixing around in my brain and in various stages of completion. I need to finish revising some of those drafts before I can allow myself to add one to the queue.

So that was my month of writing. What are you working on creatively? How did February treat you?

March Goals

February’s goals didn’t seem too oppressive, but I always forget that February is a short month whose end sneaks up on you. I also lost a couple days to dealing with mechanical difficulties and secret meetings, and so I ended up scrambling a bit at the end… But enough preamble, how’d I do last month?

  • An hour of new words, every day, regardless of what else is going on. My buddy Kevin Madison has been doing an hour of drawing every day since 2013 with some amazing results. Word count isn’t so important to me with this experiment as forcing myself to make the time. I experimented with it during the last weeks of January and managed to draft a short story I’ve been thinking about writing for a while. I’m not setting a hard word count for this goal; 1000 words would be nice, but I’m thinking that I must draft roughly a page, so 250-350 in each sitting. I’m keeping a running total of how many words and which project they belong to). Some of these words will be for Book 3, but I’ve got a few short stories on the go too.
  • Get my short fiction house in order, by which I mean: finally enter the last round of story rejections into my submissions tracker and fire them back into the world again.
  • Reread the completed Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues novels and make notes relevant to Book 3.
  • Turn in my article to Prairie Books Now.

I feel pretty good about February’s work. I wish that I could have finished my Tombstone Blues reread also, but the unexpected drama of a dying washing machine and a disagreeable car didn’t help my focus.

Neither did the never-bloody-ending cold.

Short fiction waited until the end of the month, but I’ve got back on that horse of sending things out into the world and it feels good to be collecting rejections again. I realized that some of my stories had been sitting for far too long. I can’t sell them if they stay on my computer. Another reason for the hour of writing a day! I definitely need some new stories to send out. Some of my older pieces are running out of applicable markets. I still have three previously drafted stories that I want to take another edit pass on before they join the rotation and after February, I have a couple new short stories drafted and in need of revisions.

I’ve got a breakdown post coming up where I dissect my hour of writing a day habits, but I managed to put down almost 25000 new words on a variety of projects. I also had a meeting that will directly impact the state of my long range goals, but I can’t talk about that just yet, sorry to tease. Some of the things discussed should be announced soon, though. Stay tuned.

And now, the goals for March:

  • Finish prepping for my workshop in Thompson.
  • Reread Tombstone Blues and make notes relevant to Book 3.
  • Transcribe my notes.
  • Edit and submit one of my recently drafted short stories.
  • Edit and submit one of my previously drafted short stories.

I was initially going to go for another hour of new words every day (which I’m still pursuing on the down low, so far, so good), but I’ve also been trying to be more realistic about my posted goals. And, making the time for revisions is definitely my weak point. I love getting a first draft on the page, the fixing of that draft, not so much. I know there will be new words written in March, but I’d like to get at least some of February’s work tightened up before I add more stories to the revision pile.

Write on!

Workshop And Reading In Thompson

Huge thanks to the City of Thompson, The Manitoba Writers’ Guild and Calm Air for inviting me to present a fantasy and horror writing workshop, and for making this trip possible! It’s some auspicious timing also, what with the 22nd being the 20th anniversary of the first Hellboy comic!

I’ll also be doing a reading and Q & A at the City of Thompson Public Library, Friday March 21st at 6pm. Thank you, Thompson Public for the invitation.

writingworkshop_poster_proof2

Northern Manitoba was a huge inspiration in the writing of Thunder Road, and so while I’m heading up north to teach, I’m also hoping to come home with some more stories. I promised one of my Twitter followers that I’d write something set in her home town some day…

Write on!