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Come On, Baby, Do the Pro-motion

Last week my story collection, Fatted Calf Blues, won the PEI Book Award for fiction. It felt like vindication for the snail-like but steady progress I've been making since I moved to PEI in 2001 to devote myself to my writing. Along with a commemorative tray made by an Island artist and a cash prize, the award is also a nice little profile boost for a book that is over a year and a half old. The ceremony itself was subdued and intimate, which was nice in one way, but also a bit of a shame in another.

The best thing about an award like this is the opportunity for the literary community to blow its own horn, not just for the winners but for the shortlisted authors as well. Unfortunately, there was no short list publicized for the PEI awards. The bigger literary awards, such as the Giller, the GGs and the Writers' Trust, always publicize their short lists (and sometimes long lists) well in advance as a lead-up to the awards themselves. It is a great platform from which publishers and authors can promote themselves. In the case of the GGs, readings by all the short listed authors are organized and publicized. 

The PEI Book Awards are given out every two years. The reason for that is the dearth of published books that come out of our small literary community. Two years allows for a larger pool of books to choose from. All the more reason to really milk it for all its worth. It would be heartening to see them take a page from the week-long festivities granted to the PEI Music Awards and show a little pride in our local literary community. 

In an earlier post this month, I aired my sour grapes re: a lack of fanfare for the ReLit Awards, for which Fatted Calf Blues was short listed. Well, as they say (or should say): When life deals you sour grapes, make Manishewitz. I Tweeted, Facebooked and emailed my good fortune for all I was worth. At some point I actually worried that I was just shy of spamming and expected a volley of emails, tweets and comments that said: "Enough already!" 

Instead, I got very sweet and supportive messages from good friends and passing acquaintances alike. And therein lies the real reward of getting an award.