I am thrilled to announce that my unpublished novel won the 2013 Mslexia Novel Competition. I am truly honoured and so thankful for the encouragement and enthusiasm offered to me by Debbie Taylor (Editorial Director of Mslexia), as well as Charlotte Robertson, Kirsty Lang and Val McDermid (the jury). It feels like the past few months have been a dream that just keeps getting better — long list, short list and now this news. I am blessed to be in the company of the women of Mslexia and all of the women novelists from around the world who entered the competition – women who write and who dream the same things I do. I wish much success to one and all.
More exciting news! My novel, 22 Mondays, made the short list of the 2013 Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition. It took me a few days to shake off the feeling that I was still dreaming of making it and realize I’d actually made it. Top 12 from over one thousand entries. Who knew? 22 Mondays (formerly called Gone Monday) is kind of raw and raunchy so I’m amazed the novel is resonating with anyone, let alone a bunch of lovely women from across the pond. All I can say is be brave, write it the way you want to write it and, one day, someone just might put you on their short list. A big congratulations to the other eleven women novelists on the list. The winner will be announced sometime in February or March of 2014.
Great news! My unpublished novel, 22 Mondays, has been long-listed for the 2013 Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition. The finalists will be invited to a networking event in London, England where they’ll meet literary agents and publishers. The short list will be announced soon. I’ll keep you posted.
It’s taken a few years, a bunch of rewrites, a story edit, some reader reports and countless bouts of self-doubt, but I’ve finally completed my first novel, 22 Mondays. Now I begin the work of finding the right literary agent. In the “news” section of my website, I’ll post updates about the progress I’m making towards getting published and I’ll share reflections on my writing life. If you’d like to receive an email when I post something new, please sign up here. I look forward to sharing my journey with you and hopefully inspiring yours.
22 Mondays is a savage, nail-biting thriller of a love story. Jimmy and Julep were high school sweethearts. Two decades later their messy romance comes to a screeching halt in a bad car wreck deep in the woods. Jimmy’s pinned in the front seat of his yellow Firebird. Julep’s locked in the trunk. What went wrong? Whatever’s kept them tearing each other apart their whole lives, now has them teetering on the edge of a cliff. As the hours lurch by, Jimmy realizes he’s hurt bad. His mind is a boozy haze. Once Julep grasps that she hasn’t been kidnapped by some psycho and it’s her ex who stuffed her in the truck of a car, she’s royally pissed. But her sore head has her struggling to remember why or when or how it all started. Only thing she can do is give him the bastard the silent treatment while he whines and howls in pain. As they lay dying, they both remember it all, every fight, every fuck. Their memories tumble towards childhood as death gets closer and life flashes before their eyes. True Romance, The Dog Stars, The Road, The Story of My Life – 22 Mondays is imbued with the same visceral spirit as these works. It’s a story about trashy young love – the kind that can be cruel and sexy, yet painfully awkward and tender. It’s a story that defies the reader to look away and to hate the characters, but equally compels them to keep reading as events spiral out of control and they find themselves rooting for these two broken souls.
In film, to rack focus means to shift focus from something in the foreground to something in the background. I am a writer and a filmmaker. I imagined the movie, wrote the script, gathered the supporting cast and called out the word, “Action!” and took it. My world came to life – this house, this marriage, this family, and this career.
I am the filmmaker of my life.
To someone else, the world plays out as a different movie. But I can only see it through the lens of my own experiences and memories. Despite a few missed cues, a couple of retakes and some errors in continuity, I have been content with the picture that’s played out before me. The foreground is lovely and crisp. In fact, for a long time it was so sharply in focus that I was able to successfully ignore something that lingered in the background — something slightly out of focus, but there nonetheless. It was my novel. It was lingering there in the background, waiting for me to shift my attention, waiting for me to rack focus.
I kept my gaze on the foreground, as fleeting glimpses of characters and odd snippets of conversations flashed in my periphery. That novel was pulling, edging in, beckoning. It is that tug of a deep desire to fulfill a life long dream that can seem like a flick of dust caught in the corner of your eye. I could hear it in the confident hum of the twin-engine plane flying over my house on a summer’s eve — in that sound of freedom and exploration. I could feel it in the words of Henry David Thoreau who wrote,
Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.
The filmmaker inside me was urging me to rack focus — to turn my attention to those characters, listen to those conversations, lift those dreams from where they’d been left to fossilize, and turn them over in my hands, take a closer look and unearth what was there. I did. Now that novel is written and another is beckoning.
I am strong and feeble, wishy-washy and focused. I am flawed to perfection. I do not need to change, to be super human or to fix myself. I resolve to be more wild and unruly, more at ease with my ambiguity – with those peaceful parts of me that gently sway to the tap, tap, tappings of my soul and those rebellious parts that feel like raising one fist clenched in rage.
I am like a seed – a little scattered, but nonetheless wafting in the breeze of my own momentum. I resolve to honour and believe in every part of me, even that which is undiscovered and that which is inconsistent.
Resolve is simply a way of listening intently, understanding deeply and then making up your mind to own your path.
Resolve can help you create a life you believe in – a life that resonates deeply within your soul. It is a loving voice. It is not the voice of those telling you that you don’t have the guts, that you’re lacking, or that you don’t “get it” if you don’t live like they live.
One of the biggest things that has kept me from owning my own authority, in my life, my work and my writing, is the ingrained belief that someone else out there has more authority than me, authority over me; someone else, out there, is the expert; someone else, out there, will take care of things. It’s such a place of powerlessness and victimhood. Julie Daley of Unabashedly Female
Maybe it is truly brave to work for someone else and support your family. Maybe some of us need to travel the world in search of ourselves. Maybe others embrace staying close to our homes and our communities. Maybe some of us love our jobs even if they are in a cubicle. Maybe others are better at being self-employed or entrepreneurs. Maybe some of us are not meant to be super-human-ninja-freedom-fighters, but simply human beings living real lives with responsibilities, partners, jobs and simple joys. And maybe we can learn to love the fact that we are not all the same.
Resolve is momentum. Inside you is resolve. Therefore, inside you is your own unique source of momentum.
Likely, each of us has always been on the path we were meant to be on. Our own perfectly flawed, changeable, challenging, amazing, tough and limitless path. It is our truth. It holds our unique lessons. It has been walked at our perfect pace, in our sometimes ill-fitting shoes. Hold your head high. Love your path. It is paved with your resolve.