Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hillerman Country

By Pat Browning

Contest deadlines have come and gone – except for one of the best. The Tony Hillerman contest for best unpublished novel set in the Southwest is open until June 1. No entry fee, and a great prize – publication by St.Martin’s Press and a $10,000 advance. What’s not to like?

Thanks to Tony’s daughter, Anne Hillerman, the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference has been reformatted to a writers weekend and will go on in November. Conference details are at Anne Hillerman’s Word Harvest web site:

Here’s a quick look at rules for the novel contest.

Sponsored by the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference (THWC) and St. Martin's Press, LLC
1. The Competition is open to any professional or non-professional writer, regardless of nationality, who has never been the author of a published mystery (as defined in subparagraph 2(a) below) and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a mystery. Only one manuscript entry is permitted per writer.
2. All manuscripts submitted: a) must be original, previously unpublished works of book length (no less than 220 typewritten pages or approximately 60,000 words) written in the English language by the entrant; b) must not violate any right of any third party or be libelous; and c) must generally follow the guidelines below.
1. Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story and emphasis is on the solution rather than the details of the crime.
2. The story's primary setting is the Southwestern United States, including at least one of the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Southern California and/or Utah.
3. Nominees will be selected by judges chosen by the editorial staff of St. Martin's Press, with the assistance of organizers of the THWC, and the winner will be chosen by St. Martin's editors. The decision of the editors as to the winner of the Competition will be final. St. Martin's reserves the right not to select any winner if, in the sole opinion of the editors, none of the manuscripts submitted are of publishable quality.
4. An attempt will be made to notify the Competition winner, if any, no later than October 31, 2010.
5. If a winner is selected, St. Martin's Press will offer to enter into its standard form author's agreement with the entrant for publication of the winning manuscript. After execution of the standard form authors' agreement by both parties, the winner will receive an advance against future royalties of $10,000.
6. All entries must be received or postmarked no later than June 1, 2010 …

Detailed rules and an entry blank can be found at:

No winner was chosen in 2009, but Roy Chaney won in 2008 for THE RAGGED END OF NOWHERE, set in Las Vegas, and now available.

Here’s part of Chaney’s acceptance speech. (The full speech is at the Word Harvest web site)

The Ragged End of Nowhere is set in Las Vegas, and the great beauty of Las Vegas lies in its inherent absurdity. The most obvious example of this is the simple fact that this glittering city that never sleeps has been plunked down in the middle of one of the most inhospitable desert landscapes in the United States.

The idea of building a couple of dozen casino hotels with a hundred thousand or so guest rooms in the middle of a barren desert where the average rain fall is negligible and the only major source of water is a river that has to be shared with six other states is not a shining example of good reasoning. And the notion that an entire city with a metropolitan population of nearly two million people might take root in such a place is nothing short of preposterous or it would be, if it hadn't already happened.

… Not only are Las Vegans aware of the absurdity that surrounds them, they actually seem to embrace it. As just one example, the mayor of Las Vegas is a former mob lawyer who has the habit of showing up at official functions surrounded by sequined showgirls in feathered tiaras. He considers himself a doctor of mixology and when the mood strikes him he teaches classes to all and sundry on the proper construction of a martini. If any other mayor in the country displayed this kind of joie de vivre he would be rousted out of city hall so fast it would make his head spin, but in Las Vegas it's just another day at the office.
***End Quote***

And speaking of contests:
Next week I’ll have
A Conversation with
Gerrie Ferris Finger,
a prolific writer whose mystery novel,
THE END GAME, will be released on April 27.
The novel won the Malice Domestic/St. Martin's Minotaur competition for
Best First Traditional Mystery Novel in 2009.
..........................................Stay tuned!

Photo of Window Rock from web site of OETA, Oklahoma’s PBS station.


Mark W. Danielson said...

What a great post, Pat. This is valuable information to any aspiring writer. Many thanks.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I second Mark's statement. My WIP starts out in Arizona. Maybe I should do some rewriting and keep it there. :)