Lydia knew the woman was looking for her. The woman did not look like the type of person who typically paid for Lydia’s services, which meant more work for less pay or the possibility of pro bono work. On the plus side, Lydia didn’t need the money for rent or food, but on the other side, the Houdini Challenge was in a month and she didn’t want to take a job which would interfere with her plans to compete in that.
The bartender kept shaking his head, but the woman persisted. Finally, the woman managed to convince the bartender of her need, or he decided he wasn’t getting paid enough to be harassed, he pointed to the booth where Lydia was sitting. The woman left the bar and approached.
“Lydia Sumerton?” the woman asked once she was standing beside the booth.
“Maybe,” Lydia replied, “Why?”
“My name is Elizabeth James,” the woman moved her hand as if she was wondering whether she should hold it out to shake, “I need your help.”
“I don’t offer help,” Lydia said, “I am paid for my services.”
“Tyler Durand sent me to you,” Elizabeth twisted her fingers, “He said you would help me if I offered to pay you for your services. I don’t have much, but I will pay you what I can.”
Lydia studied Elizabeth for a very long minute as Elizabeth continued to twist her fingers.
“How do you know Tyler Durand?” Lydia asked.
“We went to school together,” Elizabeth answered, “We have kept in touch over the years. When I told him my situation, he suggested I come to you.”
Lydia studied Elizabeth for another minute before nodding toward the vacant side of the booth. Elizabeth sat down quickly as if she was scared Lydia might change her mind.
“What are you looking for exactly?” Lydia took out her notebook, sipped her drink, and waited for Elizabeth to start. Elizabeth hesitated as she took a deep breath and readied herself.
“My baby has been stolen,” Elizabeth said, “And I need to get her back.”
“This sounds like a job for the police,” Lydia said.
“I filed a report and they have been working on it,” Elizabeth said, “But months have gone by without them finding anything. The more time it takes to investigate the case the less time and energy they have to put into it.”
“And you think I can help?” Lydia asked, “I am not in law enforcement or any other profession, which would be useful to your situation. There are plenty of agencies around who can help you.
“I have been to many of them,” Elizabeth said, “And they try, but really they can’t help.”
“So, why me?” Lydia asked.
“Tyler said you are a thief,” Elizabeth answered, “Which means you can go places and get information unavailable to the public. You can find out what happened to my child.”
“I’m an independent contractor with certain moral ambiguity,” Lydia said, “But I don’t think that will help you much.”
“No one else has been able to help me,” Elizabeth’s voice caught in her throat and she took a deep breath before continuing, “I promise to pay you for your time.”
Lydia was quiet and sipped her drink. Elizabeth clasped her upper arms and waited. Occasionally she would let out the breath she was holding. Lydia waved down the server for another drink and did not speak until it arrived.
“Tell me what happened.”
According to many people’s thinking all writing is the same, so if you are a writer than writing essays must be easy. Except that there is a vast difference between writing fiction and writing essays. Fiction writing I find much easier than essay writing. With fiction writing, I am making everything up as I go. A few things require research and when the story does the subject it usually something I am interested in. Essays are an argument written down with the evidence provided. This requires serious analysis and thought. And research. Usually the research is a lot of boring reading. Also as an assigned piece of writing so the subject is one I am not as interested in, which makes the whole thing harder.
There are different kinds of writing and they all take different sorts of energy and thought processes. A poem comes from a more emotional place. Stories come from escapism. Essays come from research and deep thought. Technical writing is logic based. Each uses parts of the brain that other do not. So, as I fiction writer I write essays only when necessary and usually in the stressed, adrenaline fueled last hours before it is due.
I have discussed National Novel Writing Month before, but it does not count among the contests I want to bring to your attention. Contests can be a great way for writers to get noticed in a field that can be very hard to break into. Here are five contests that I have either entered or have wanted to enter. All of these are Canada based contests with some accepting international entries.
The first one is the Three Day Novel Contest, which happens on the Labour Day weekend. The goal of this contest is to write a novel and do the first edit all in the three days in that weekend. It costs $50 to enter and the prize is a publishing contract for that book. And is open to anyone.
The second is the CBC Short Fiction Contest, which is open September 1 to October 31. It is part of Canada Writes that include a creative non-fiction contest and a poetry contest. The goal is a 1,200 to 1,500 word short story. The cost is $25. The prize is $6,000, publication in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine, and 10 day writing residency at the Banff Centre. Open to Canadian citizens.
Next is PRISM international Fiction Contest, which has a deadline of January 15. The maximum work count of 6,000 for the short story. There is also a creative non-fiction contest and a poetry contest. The cost is $35, plus $5 for any additional piece submitted. The prize is $1,500 for grand prize, $600 runner-up, and $400 for the second runner-up. This is open to anyone.
The fourth is the Great BC Novel Contest, which is for novels or novellas with a deadline of September 1st. The cost is $40. The prize is a publishing contract for that book. This is open to residents of British Columbia.
The final contest is the John Harris Fiction Awards, which has a deadline in March. This is for short stories of 10,000 words or less. Though creative non-fiction is accepted as well as fiction. There is no cost to enter. The prize is $1,000. It is open to the residents of northern British Columbia.
These are a very small amount of contests available to enter for writers. There is also the contest put on by Lit-N-Laughter.