Thursday, February 3, 2011

I entered Debut Dagger and I feel good!

I just pushed the button. That's all. But I feel like running up and down stairs about a zillion times yelling 'yay, yay, yay!'  But I won't. I'll post this blog.  So what is it that I did?
For several months I've been dreaming about entering The Debut Dagger Contest. It is a contest that The Crime Writers' Association puts on yearly. Here's a little blurb from the CWA's site:

Aspiring crime writers have until midnight on 5th February to enter the 2010/11 running of the CWA Debut Dagger. This competition for unpublished crime writers has launched the careers of a score or more authors since its inception in 1998. The most recent example is Belinda Bauer, runner-up for the CWA Debut Dagger award two years ago, who this year scooped the CWA Gold Dagger, the biggest prize in crime fiction.

The Debut Dagger is open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially. For more detailed information on how to enter, visit the Debut Dagger pages. The first prize is £700, but it’s not the money, it’s the attention that winners and everyone on the shortlist get from top-notch agents that is the main benefit.

That's the part I'm excited about. Louise Penney, fabulous Canadian author, got short-listed a few years back and it launched her career. Allan Bradley won in 2007 with his unfinished novel Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie which garnered him a three-book deal. These are authors that I admire and so I began getting my submission ready ages ago. Or thought I did. But I didn't really because I needed to hear back from my first readers. First reader, Tartlette, who many of you know and love thought The Rock Walker started in a different place and I agreed. Now for this contest you don't have to have a finished manuscript - Bradley didn't - just an idea and the first 3 thousand words. But you have to write a synopsis under a thousand words. I have a whole novel - it just isn't in the right order yet. But the first two chapters are! Man oh man, I honed those words - I read and re-read them and all my favourite editing and revising tomes. I got rid of my lazy adverbs and my slack prose. Every word in that first 3 thousand stands up proud and tall and works hard! The synopsis drove me bats but I did it. A woman named Anne Mini from Author Author! gave me one great idea. She told me to print out my synopsis and highlight everything that wasn't to do with the main plot. I did that on the computer because I'm poor and paper is expensive. Then I copied it out into a new file and eliminated all the highlighted lines. Wow! It worked. I had a robust synopsis at last. It took many more edits before I had it the way I liked it and Susan Bell's book The Artful Edit was amazingly helpful. And she said something that actually FINALLY happened to me. I was finishing the last edit on the first chapters when I got that the rest of this edit (which will be huge because I've changed the order of the story) will be fine. I can do it - I'll be editing into something instead of writing into nothing like when you first write a story. I know all the blocks to this story and I think I know how to place them slowly one on top of another.
I'm sorry if I sound like a blathering person - I just feel like I'm getting it, really getting it - and I'm happy.  I sound like Sally Fields at the Oscars. And that's just fine with me.
Gosh it is gorgeous out - the sky is layers of thin aqua and rose tissue behind intricate bare trees. I must be stoned.


Niamh said...

What a great competition. Well done! Fingers crossed for you!
Thats a great great tip about highlighting everything that hasnt anything to do with the main plot!Thanks! Your excitment is contagious...congratulations on your submission!

Cozy in Texas said...

I haven't heard of this competition - keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Faith Pray said...

Hurrah, Jane! What an accomplishment! I can just feel your full-tummy satisfaction. Well done, and thanks for shooting sparks out for the rest of us! Cheers to a great contest and a superb contestant!

Elle said...

Wishing you the best of luck with your entry!

Thanks for visiting my site :-)

HearWriteNow & Blood-Red Pencil

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Good for you, Jan! Best of luck. Damn, I wish I'd entered too! Ah well.

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Niamh - thanks! Contests are great because they impose deadlines - deadlines are great because they get your butt in gear...
Ann- I think it is well known in the UK (which you're from, no?) but I only know about it because of those two authors I mentioned.
Faith - thanks deario - how's all the munchkins?
Elle - and thanks for visiting mine right back at ya!
Elspeth - Oh, I wished that I'd told you more - there is a historical dagger too but that is for after you're published I think. You have until tomorrow? I did mention it earlier and people kept thinking I was talking about the Amazon one which, quite frankly, entre nous, I wouldn't go near - it is far too terrifying and I think you lose the rights to your book somehow. Ah well, it grinds on. It took me a year to get up the noive!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Good luck, Jan! Keep us posted on the results.

I like the advice on writing a synopsis. I’m going to try that with my latest manuscript.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh Jan, how exciting! Congratulations on getting entered and good luck! And I love that approach on the synopsis! So what is the timing on this?

Arlee Bird said...

Good move! I keep hearing about how entering contests is a good plan and I should probably try it myself. Look forward to hearing the outcome of your submission.

Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

Liza said...

Hooray Jan. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the dagger contest, and best of luck to all of us taking part in the A-Z blogging challenge!

Stacy Post said...

Jan, I'm root-ta-tooting for you! This sounds like an excellent opportunity. Go, Jan, Go!