This past November, I was surprised by an unexpected e-mail informing me that my manuscript Sun was a top-three finalist in the Carolina Wren Lee Smith novel competition. Surprised, because when I checked my records, I saw I’d submitted the manuscript exactly one year and one day prior to that e-mail. Which is to say I had long stopped thinking the novel might be in contention for the award.
A few days later, I met Carolina Wren’s publisher Robin Muira at the North Carolina Writers Network Conference in Raleigh. One of the first things she said was that she thought Sun was “beautifully written.” And although I responded appreciatively, what actually went through my mind was “I’m not really so certain about that.”
Although delighted by the novel’s top-three selection, I was also worried. What if it really isn’t quite ready for publication?
Sun has been my most challenging novel. Although I began it shortly after my first novel Absolution was published, it has taken me eight years to get the manuscript where I halfway like it. This past year, other than sending it to the Carolina Wren Press and a few chapters to another small press, I’ve made no attempt to market it. I first wanted to revise it yet again and planned to do so this January. Which I’m now doing.
So here’s my Shoutout to Carolina Wren Press: yes, I’m disappointed not to win the Lee Smith competition, but the affirmation this manuscript received from the press and publisher has sent me into 2017 with renewed energy and even excitement for this story about a Charleston slave girl of mixed race and her journey south to freedom.
Thanks Carolina Wren Press.