A Night at Hogwarts: The Arthur Ellis Awards Gala

arts and letters societyThe dining room at St. George’s Hall, home since 1908 to Toronto’s Arts and Letters Society, has an ancient grandeur to it. Dark paneled walls, heavy wooden furniture, and leaded glass windows set high above us. It would make a great setting for an Agatha Christie novel, or a Sherlock Holmes story.

My wife Lexie (the one in the bottom corner of the photo, with the beautiful smile) joined me for the Crime Writers of Canada gala banquet, at which the winners of the 2019 Arthur Ellis Awards were anno20190523_192551unced. I was one of five authors whose unpublished crime novels made the short list for an award sponsored by Dundurn Press. The nominations in our category included:

cropped-finalist-sticker-a-1.pngJim Bottomley, Hypnotizing Lions
Don Macdonald, Omand’s Creek
Liv McFarlane, The Scarlet Cross
Heather McLeod, One for the Raven
Darrow Woods, The Book of Answers
I had the opportunity to meet and to congratulate Jim, Liv and Heather. Don Macdonald was the sole nominee not present for the announcement of the winning manuscript, which was The Scarlet Cross, by Liv McFarlane. Liv went home with the trophy, and a cheque for $500.00. She made a great impromptu acceptance speech. I was impressed with her eloquence, and her passion for this work.
20190523_215737 (1)The photo next to this paragraph is of me with Heather McLeod, who travelled with her mother (a librarian!) all the way from B.C. for the awards banquet.
I was happy for Heather, and for all the nominees, to get this far! Each of our manuscripts will be read by the acquisitions department at Dundurn Press. They are distinguished from other submissions received by publishers, as “Finalists” for an Arthur Ellis Award.
I am eager to read each of works nominated in our category, as well as some of the other award winners announced at the ceremony.
My writing teacher and friend, Melodie Campbell, was the emcee for the evening’s melodie campbellprogram. She also found time to introduce me to a number of her fellow authors, as well as other prominent people in the Canadian publishing scene.
Melodie is a former executive director of Crime Writers of Canada, an award winning novelist, and an inspiring teacher. You can learn more at her website:
At Melodie’s urging, I entered this competition in the fall of 2018, with the submission of 5000 words from my first attempt at writing a mystery novel. I was thrilled when the judges asked for the rest of the manuscript, and it was added to the “long list” of 10 books to be given further consideration. It was so much more exciting, and affirming, to learn in April that I’d made the short list of 5 nominees.
I consider each of us who completed a manuscript, and have had our work read and critiqued by a panel of readers, to be winners! Our efforts are receiving positive attention, and we are being encouraged by family members, friends, and now people in the industry.
We were not really at Hogwarts, but it was an evening of mystery, and magic.

The Local News

The-Harrow-News-PublishingI was interviewed today, by Shelby Wye, who writes for The Harrow News, a great local paper that serves the town where I work as the United Church minister. When Shelby called to set our time to meet, I asked if we could do the interview after I finished lunch at the Harrow branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. They have a lunch special on “Wacky Wednesdays” that can’t be beat, and I’d planned to go there with a group from the church, when they finished cleanup from a pie-making bee. (The church operates a pie booth at the Harrow Fall Fair that is a huge fund-raiser for our work in the community.)

While I was at the Legion, I checked in with some members of the executive about the annual grave decorating day, which happens on the first Sunday of June. Legion members and friends remove the old Canadian flags from the graves of veterans, and place new ones. As the son of an air force vet, who kind of grew up around the Legion, I am happy to be involved.

But back to the interview! Shelby, who in her words, “heard from a little bird” about my being a finalist for the 2019 Unhanged Arthur Ellis Award, came by to talk to me about my mystery novel, my aspirations as an author, and the competition. We had a great conversation, and she took a photo for the paper of me holding my manuscript. In the interest of full disclosure, the photo that will appear in the Harrow News will show me with a mock up of the actual manuscript, because at this point, it only exists in digital form. Click the link below to the imagined book cover I created, long before I actually wrote the novel.

book cover mock up