Saturday, April 22, 2023

This was a big week

I had some huge news on Thursday: my most recent mystery manuscript was shortlisted for this year's 'Best Unpublished Mystery' award from Crime Writers of Canada! I get to show off this badge now and everything:


As you know, I stepped back from knit design and frequent Hugs to do more fiction writing, and my shortlisted novel, SNOWED, is my third since this shift in focus. It's about an 80-year-old widow who has to solve a murder to hang onto her home - and fast, before the local police uncover her own sideline in blackmail. I know, she sounds so unsympathetic! But she doesn't blackmail for money. She swaps her silence for home repair, because her late husband left the house to the local historical society and they can take possession immediately if their monthly inspection reveals so much as a single peel of paint.

I had a great time with this one, playing with cozy mystery tropes and putting a fresh spin on the meddling old lady sleuth character. And it is such a vote of confidence to be a finalist for Crime Writers of Canada! It seems like everybody who ever thought they might like to write a novel, did so during the 2020 lockdowns. As a result every literary competition has been flooded with double or more the usual number of submissions the last couple of years. In that context, knowing the panel liked mine enough to put it into the top five... that's really something.

Another big thing happened this week.

This is a picture of a U Haul truck parked in front of our three-hours-distant cottage, so hidden by foliage after our long absence you can't really make out the excellent paint job Pete did right before we started construction on a new foundation and basement. The wishing well cover over the actual well shows up there though. I wrote a post a while back about yarn-bombing the bucket.

If you've been around long enough, you may recall that we bought this cottage from my much-loved aunt and uncle and had a ton of happy summers up there until we had to accept the listing sensation as we crossed the kitchen was not our imagination. The stilts it was built on were no longer doing the job, and it was time to bring in a specialist to raise it up and put a proper foundation underneath.

Given the choice between foundation and full basement, we opted for the extra living space, forgetting that it meant finding contractors to finish the new interior with walls, plumbing, all-new wiring, a heat source, a bathroom, and a stairway to the main floor - no mean feat in that pretty remote area! Plus, the foundation work started in the fall of 2019, so you can imagine how much harder it was to find a contractor to finish the job in 2020. Or 2021. Or even 2022, never mind that we were swamped then ourselves and couldn't have coordinated the work. 

So this was to to be the year we'd wrap up that job and get back to enjoying the beautiful lake at the edge of the property.

But in January, we had a letter from some neighbours asking if we'd be open to selling it to them. And after thinking it over, we realized this was the right thing to do. We love that very special place, but we're simply too far away to look after it properly: its new owners will live there full time and give it all the care and attention it deserves. Plus, they're in the area already and will have no problem getting trades in to transform it into a four-season home. 

They're just wonderful people and my biggest regret is that we won't be up there ourselves to get to know them better. 

My second-biggest regret is saying goodbye to the water!

There's still snow up there, but enough finally melted for us to get the truck in and clear out our things, almost a week after we officially closed the sale. So these photos are our last... in fact, we no longer owned it when we took them. 

I feel very fortunate to have had the wonderful news about SNOWED being shortlisted the same day we were saying our farewells. I mean, talk about great timing, getting that reminder of all the new possibilities that lie ahead of us, even as we close the door on something else.

Let's admire the lake together one last time, shall we? And then go and have a wonderful week till I see you here again next Saturday.

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