Circumstances being what they were, I didn’t see my baby sister in person until Canada Day. Almost seven months after we’d last held hands and cried together.
I knew immediately that her life was measured in weeks and days and hours and minutes. And I was pissed at the cancer clinic in Arizona that took her money, and gave all of us — Marilou excepted — an unwarranted sense of optimism.
I had always intended on letting her read Secrets of the Hotel Maisonneuve before anyone else in my family, a quiet gift that might light a few smiles along her arduous road. It would be an intimacy shared that might speak of deep and abiding bonds nurtured over the last half-century.
But I had left it too late. And I have to live with that.
The day after my sister left this world, the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia congratulated me on winning the 35th Annual Atlantic Writing Competition for unpublished manuscripts. The fist pump that followed seconds later felt so wrong, as did the happy hugs and handshakes at Marilou’s celebration, but I do know that my sister wanted the best for me.
I’ll be reading at the Word on the Street Festival in two weeks, not all together certain I should be there. A lightning strike of form-letter rejections from literary agents has caused a Crisis of Faith to well.
But I’m always thinking, always shuffling to find options when dealt a pair of deuces. So I’ll end with comments from one judge, in the hopes that his or her words will give me strength to send one more query. And then another one after that.
This work has quite a lot going right with it. A male leading role is always a selling point for publishers and I must confess a personal bias toward treasure hunt tales with codes and ciphers. In a classroom setting, they are excellent teaching tools.
As for the setting — who doesn’t love Montréal? The cultural sensitivity is a strong selling point as we have a Vitenamese lady, a pair of gay men, and lots of bilingual interchange.
The three plots of the elderly lady, the bully, and the hidden treasure dovetail very well…
This [novel]… kept me turning the pages long after I should have moved on! Well done!