I know that’s a cliche, but really it’s true.

Had some good news over the past few days. Wanting Mor was nominated for the 2010/2011 Hackmatack award–that’s a reader’s choice award (in Canada they’re commonly referred to as the tree awards because they’re often named after trees–hey we’re Canadian–we have a leaf on the flag!). The Hackmatack award is voted on by the children in the Maritime provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The last time I had a book nominated for this particular award, it was Muslim Child. I was pretty sure Muslim Child would not win. I doubted such a ‘foreign’ book would win the hearts of those bonnie lads and lasses!

The Maritime provinces are a little community unto their own. You get a completely different feel when you go there.

It’s quite magical.

Walking down the streets of Halifax, past the ancient graveyard that contains so many remains of the Titanic victims. You can smell the salt tang in the air and the cloudiness just feels good.

I had a great time going to the award ceremony. Sheree Fitch was the mc, and she was terrific. So bubbly and charming. And just knowing that being on the nomination list means that quite a majority of kids will be reading your book, is an honour all its own. But luckily this was not my first award ceremony.

I’m really looking forward to going again. Again I kind of doubt Wanting Mor will win, but…it’s an honour to be nominated!

The other nomination was a bit more surprising to me. Wanting Mor has also been nominated for the IODE Violet Downey Award. IODE stands for The Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire. Their motto: Women dedicated to a better Canada.  Cool!

That one is particularly impressive because it’s a short list of only four titles and there’s a cash prize. So I’ve got a one in four chance of winning the $3000 prize! Not bad.

There too, I’m in really good company. Arthur Slade’s on the list, so is Shane Peacock. I met Arthur in Calgary at Wordfest. He’s a tall guy who’s written numerous award winners and who’d recently lost twenty pounds after mounting his computer on his treadmill and walking every time he worked. (A really good idea that I want to try!)

I first met Shane at the Red Maple award (another tree award for middle school students in Ontario) ceremony. I was nominated for my first novel Dahling if You Luv Me Would You Please Please Smile. He had just come out with one of his boy Sherlock Holmes adventures.

Worthy opponents! The kind you don’t feel bad losing to.

Gosh, I feel so sanguine about it all!

I remember how immature I was with the Red Maple award ceremony. Brimming with over confidence.

It was my very first award ceremony and I had so much to learn.

Maybe I had too much to prove.

But that experience taught me a lot. It taught me how to lose.

You see, I’d been so sure I would win. I thought Dahling was magnificent! (Actually I still do–humility has never been my strong suit, at least when it comes to writing. I really do think I’m that good.)

In fact I think it was Dahling that got me my fancy New York agent at the time. She read my picture books but it was Dahling that hooked her, I think.

The only book I was seriously worried about as competition for the Red Maple was Kenneth Oppel’s Sunwing. And when they said his name as first runner up, I thought I still had a chance.

Oh the award ceremony was so cute!

They’d bussed in all these intermediate kids from all over the province, and we ate a lunch of pizza and orange pop.

I wore my fanciest outfit, a royal blue shalwar kameez so laden down with gold embroidery (the wiry kind) that the dress was actually heavy. I even had an ambassador! She was an Asian girl named Florence! Slim and lithe she carried the sign with my name on it with great pride and fanfare!

My hubby had warned me. He said, “Don’t you cry if you lose!”

I was a bit nervous of that. It would be horrible if I cried and I thought there might be a very real danger of it.

And then when the winner was announced, and it wasn’t me. 

Of course I was shocked.

But the thing that saved me was when Florence whirled around, at least equally as shocked, and said to me, “I can’t believe you didn’t win!”

God bless her for that! It was a sadaqa! (a type of charity).

And so I didn’t cry.

I smiled whole heartedly and told her, “Thank you!”

And I clapped loudly for the winner.

It broke the curse of expectation. And it has put the whole process into perspective.

Just because you write a book that you think is more than pretty darn good, doesn’t mean that you’re entitled to any sort of accolade.

Good reviews, starred reviews, awards, etc. are all gravy.

The important thing was that I wrote a book that had inspired such a lovely gracious fan as Florence.

So I really mean it when I say it’s an honour just to be nominated.