Sunday, May 30, 2010

We Weren't Going to Win...

When the nominations were opened for the 2010 PrixAurora Awards, all of us – Ryan McFadden, Roxanne Felix, Billie Milholland and I -- threw our names in the ring, even though we knew we'd never be shortlisted.  “Women of the Apocalypse,” the anthology we had written, had been launched by Absolute Xpress in October of 2009, and though we had had some success with it, we could see we were up against big names.  We were too small, too unknown, too everything.  We didn't have a chance, and we knew it.  But, we entered our stories and the anthology, just the same.  Because you never know what will stick.  Then, we pushed.

Since Women of the Apocalypse was launched in October of 2009, one of the biggest lessons we learned was the hard work does not stop when the book is published.  That is actually when it starts.  We quickly realized nobody cared about four unknown writers and their a strange little print on demand anthology.  If we wanted to get anywhere at all, we had to push.  Hard.

Using the push hard technique got us into book stores when we didn't have distribution.  It got us a series of successful launches and book signings, across the country.  It got us advantageous tables at events, even if we didn't start there.  (I call that my Nazi Germany tactic.  “We need more room!”) It got us media attention.  It got us on the Calgary Herald Bestsellers List.

So, we wanted to see if it would get any of our stories – and maybe even the anthology – shortlisted.  We all set to work, contacting everyone we knew who had purchased a book, telling them about our nominations, and asking them to help us attain one more goal. They were happy to hear from us, and happy to vote.  And, they were happy to tell their friends and networks.

It worked, better than we could have hoped.  My novella, Pawns Dreaming of Roses, made it into the “Short” category, and the anthology made it into “Other.”  We were delighted, over the moon, thrilled.  We knew we couldn't win.  But we wanted to make a good showing, so when it came to the final vote, we did what we do best.  We pushed.

We explained about the Auroras to whoever would listen – and to some who would rather have not.  We explained about the honour and tradition, we tried to explain the voting system used (even though we didn't really understand it ourselves) and we talked about our book.  We talked endlessly about our book.  To anyone and everyone. 

I don't know about the rest of the four, but when I pulled into Winnipeg for Key Con, and then the Aurora Award gala on Sunday night, I was exhausted, but determined to celebrate how far we had come in a relatively short time.  Way in the back of my heart, I wished we would win... but I knew we probably wouldn't.  But that was OK, because we'd done the best we could. 

And then, on Sunday, we won.  Not once, but twice.

We didn't have thank you speeches prepared.  We didn't have media releases ready to shoot out to all the local and national media the next day.  We didn't have much planned at all.  So, we all looked and acted like happy deer in the headlights for most of that night, and the next day.

And now?  We are pushing again.  Hard.  But it's funny.  I don't feel quite as exhausted as I did last week.            


Eileen Bell has written (you guessed it) most of her life. She has completed 3 novels (one burned, one under her bed, one out in the world), and many short works.  She has been published in On Spec and Western Producer (showing her range) and her work has been produced for CBC's Alberta Anthology.  She also won an Honourable Mention in the Writer's Guild of Alberta's Screenwriter's Initiative. Her last published work is her Aurora winning novella in “Women of the Apocalypse.”  When she is not counting her minutes of fame, she is working on another collaboration project. When she isn’t writing she’s living a fine life in a round house with her husband, her dog, her daughter’s cat, and two goldfish.

Women of the Apocalypse
The Aurora-winning fantasy anthology!

Four women. Four shooters. Four destinies to save the world…

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are coming. And four Archangels find the perfect champions to save the world: fighters, warriors, soldiers, and brave men,  all ready to fight for humanity against end times. All they have to do is drink a shooter — a caustic mix of alcohol and divinity that will imbue them with the conviction to battle the Four.

Buy it here.
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