Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sparkly things and celebrations

by Julie Tollefson

I've written before about my “celebrations bowl,” the one I keep on my counter to remind me of my writing successes. Anytime something worth celebrating happens—publication of a short story, let’s say—I toast the achievement with sparkling wine and keep the cork as a memento.

Sometimes, when the news is really good, a cork alone isn’t adequate. When I sold my first story to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, I used part of my payment to buy jewelry. That first sale was a huge boost to my writerly self-esteem, and now every time I wear the ring I bought with that check, I’m reminded that someone liked my fiction enough to pay for it.

In December, another newsworthy event sent me skipping back to the jewelry store: The Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter announced winners of its annual Hugh Holton Contest for unpublished crime fiction manuscripts, and my work in progress, In the Shadows, won in the member division!

The contest is open to unpublished (novel length) writers, member or not, who live in one of the thirteen states represented by the chapter. Guest judges for the member category this year were Danielle Egan-Miller and Joanna Mackenzie from Browne & Miller Literary Associates.

The MWAMW announcement about the award included this lovely bit:
Browne & Miller chose Tollefson’s excerpt based on its “atmospheric and well-composed opening scene,” “noticeably elevated writing,” and “rich, lyrical descriptions.”
Wow. I’m overwhelmed (still, almost a month later) and soooo thrilled. I found the perfect pair of earrings to commemorate the award. They kind of match the ring—unintentional, but awesome, right? Every time I wear them, I’ll remember “atmospheric” and “lyrical” and be inspired and grateful anew.

You can read a brief excerpt of In the Shadows on my website.

How do you celebrate the good things in your life?


  1. Congratulations, Julie. A wonderful end of year/beginning of year celebration of your writing!

    ~ Jim

  2. Thanks, Jim! Yes, it was just the boost I needed to start 2017 off right!

  3. Congratulations! May 2017 be full of good news.

  4. Oh, Julie, so well deserved! What a wonderful beginning to 2017 - and as the year starts, so it continues (that's my story, I'm sticking to it!).

    Bubbly is my celebration libation of choice as well. I have those pilsners in the first picture. Never thought of using them for champagne glasses. Now there's a labor saving device. Hope I have a reason to test the theory this year.

    May you have many more reasons to pop the cork in 2017 (and beyond).

  5. Congratulations, Julie! Such a great way to begin the new year. I loved the excerpt and look forward to reading more. My celebrations usually involve a cork, also, but from a smooth red.

  6. Congratulations! My celebrations involve dark chocolate.

  7. Yay, Julie! May your cork and jewelry collection grow and grow in 2017!

  8. Congratulations, Julie. May 2017 continue to be a great year for you. What do I do to celebrate good news? Write about it in my journal and/or share it with family and friends.

  9. Thank you, Margaret!

    Thanks, Kait - Bubbly for all!

  10. Thanks so much, Becky! I enjoy a nice red from time to time myself!

  11. Thanks, Warren! Dark chocolate goes with everything, right?

    Thanks, Linda! I'm thankful I'm surrounded by some many terrific writers - it's inspiring!

    Thank you, Gloria - May you have plenty to journal about in 2017!

  12. I wish you lots of success in your writing and an overflowing bowl of corks.

  13. Such great news! I'm happy for you, and it's a pleasure to hear how you celebrate your successes. I'm sure you will have many more.