Okay. Here's the longest running gap between parts one and two in history.
I was either a) kidnapped by alien life-forms b)in a writers comma (like a coma, only different) c) on a religious retreat d) or hammering away at the outlines for the two books that are mentioned later in this post.
Anyway. I believe in finishing what you start, no matter how long it takes you. So here it is.
The Read Off was packed with readers. I met the wonderfully helpful Cliff Stornel who organized the event and got my slot near the end of the pack. Arlene and I sat through some really good stories and some skilled readers. (Although I would suggest the secret to success is edit, edit, edit. AND the story you read is not exactly the story you write. Use the venacular, use your voice for intent instead of speaking text adverbs and attach yourself like a leech to the emotional ups and downs of your story)
So there we sat. My stomach was grumbling hunger and butterflies. Then I was called. (2nd secret - start out LOUD, because chances are you won't be as loud as you think you are because your words are getting swallowed by FRIGHT!.
I had a good dialogue opening, including a sound effect (can't have too many) and within moments I knew the audience was with me, and just like that the stress lessened and the fun returned. Give your audience something and they will give you something in return - kind of simple isn't it.
If I placed somewhere in the top 10 (out of 27) , that meant inclusion in a chap book whose proceeds go to the Winnipeg Library. I would be content. (especially since my writer's group had pretty well panned my story. Aha!)
The Con organizers were going to announce the winner at the Masquerade, which Arlene and I didn't attend. We were starved and went out for a beer at the Albert Arms and dinner in an area of Winnipeg where I used to live many moons ago and had a great time. We came back, did the " do we go to bed early? ( as we had just flown in at 1pm and I had a panel to lead at 4pm, then the Read-Off was 5pm, until 7pm, so we were pretty pooped) , but gamely decided we'd check out the dance before heading to bed .
So there we are semi-dancing, not really there at all and we see Julie Czerneda who published my first short story in her anthology Ages of Wonder, (co-edited by Rob St. Martin) dancing away with Roger to beat the band (or in this case DJ) with so we dance over.
On the way, the irrepressible Leamber, one of the Con organizers, throws her arms around me and gives me a big hug. She says something but the music is blasting, and besides, I don't need a reason for a hug.
Then Julie comes over and gives me a big hug, ( I'm thinking, maybe I should go to dances more often,) and Julie says congratulations. I yell," thanks", then she says, "You don't know do you?" I say, "Know what?" This is the part I'll never forget. She yells, "You won, you idiot!"
The night changed after that. So many complete strangers, some of them writers who had been in the audience told me how much they loved my story, how they were glad they didn't have to read after me, how I made them cry and how they knew I'd win as soon as I was done.
But here's the icing.
Besides a nifty piece of software, I won a 15 minute one on one, face-to-face pitch session with Sheila Gilbert, masterful editor and co-owner of DAW books, one of the best sci-fi fantasy publishers in the business and I pitched two novels, and she wanted to see them both. Wow! (now I just have to write one of them, Or at least figure out my through line and what the heck, maybe an ending or two.)
We went to the Auroras the next evening and had a great time. My table mates were spectacular. Julie, Roger, Arlene, Nalo Hopkinson, Sheila Gilbert and Edward Willett to name a few.
Even though I didn't win my very first nomination (there will be others), all in all, having met and successfully pitched to Sheila Gilbert I'd say I won.
Apropos, it was my birthday weekend and I really liked my presents.