The 2021 Cecil Connelly Awards for Literary Persistence (The Cecils): A new award for Ontario-based, small-press novelists 50+
Attention Ontario-based, small-press novelists aged 50 and over. If you’ve had novels published by small presses exclusively – and are presently working on a new novel – you may be eligible for the inaugural 2021 Cecil Connelly Awards for Literary Persistence, aka The Cecils.
The winners have been selected! Meet them, and read their work.
(FYI: There will be no 2022 Cecil Awards because this is a self-funded prize and I can’t afford it this year.)
Info About The Cecils
What are The Cecils? And what’s the prize?
The Cecils reward literary talent and that other essential characteristic – persistence. Plus, they will inspire others to keep writing, or to start! At least that’s the idea.
A $3000 cash prize will be shared by the three winning writers ($1000 per writer). The quality of the new novel-in-progress excerpt is what will be judged. However, the essay (see submission guidelines below) is important. After all, these awards are meant to inspire other writers with stories of persistence.
The three winning entries will be featured on this site — the 10-page novel excerpts and the 250-word essays. I’ll push them on social media channels, so you’ll get some exposure, too.
What’s the application fee?
There is NO application fee.
What’s the story behind The Cecils?
The Cecils are named after my late grandfather, Cecil Connelly, who worked hard, never gave up despite obstacles, and gave back to his community. He’s always been an inspiration to me.
They are a celebration of under-the-radar talent, persistence, and positivity despite adversity. They are also a response to the “emerging,” “young” and “40 under 40” writer awards and headlines that exclude older writers. (If you want to learn more about this, read this article in The Guardian.)
Why 50+ years old? And why small press only?
Writing novels is hard — and so is getting them published. I want to celebrate the writers who keep going — who persist despite all the obstacles and heartbreak. Writers who are 50+ know all about persistence — and writers 50+ who are published exclusively by small presses especially. (Small press authors often don’t have access to advances or a wider audience that comes from publishing with a large press.) I want to honour these authors; they inspire me.
Who is judging? And how can you ensure impartiality?
For this inaugural edition, I will be personally judging all entries. (You can learn more about me here.) A third party will be handling the submission inbox to ensure that I am judging blind.
However, it is up to the applicant to ensure that NO names are included on the essay or 10-page sample, and that NO names are included in the file name of the documents. If names are included, the application will be disqualified. (Names in the e-mails/e-mail addresses are fine, though, as I will not be seeing those.)
When can I submit?
The submission window is now closed for the 2021 prize. No prize will be held in 2022 since I can’t afford it (lots home repairs were needed this year), but I hope I can afford to fund it in 2023.
Eligibility & Submission Info
To be eligible, you must…
- Live in the province of Ontario.
- Be 50+ years old.
- Be a published novelist. Any number of published novels qualifies — from 1 – 100+. However, all of your novel(s) must have been published by a small press(es) exclusively. (Meaning, you have only ever published novels with a publisher that is NOT owned by a large corporation. Some examples of small presses include Freehand Books, Coach House Books, Goose Lane Editions, Biblioasis, etc. Here’s a helpful list of small presses in Canada. Self-published novels do not apply, unfortunately.)
The submission window opened on November 1, 2020, and closed on December 20, 2020.
Submissions must be anonymous** and must include…
- A 10-page sample of your new novel in progress (no short story collections, unfortunately).
- Double- or single-spaced is fine; size 12 font, please.
- PDFs or Word documents, please.
- Please include the TITLE of your novel-in-progress on the first page.
- The novel CAN be under contract with a small press, or not — either is fine. But it cannot yet be published.
- All genres are welcome!
- The sample must be in English.
- Only one submission per author is permitted.
- A 250-word (max) essay on what keeps you writing despite how tough it is. (Meaning, how tough the act of writing is itself, and how challenging it is to get traditionally published and read widely.)
- The essay must be in English.
- PDFs or Word documents, please.
- And remember, this essay is meant to inspire others, so keep that in mind when writing yours.
** Please ensure that your name does NOT appear on either document, or in the name of the file. It is fine if your name appears in the email / email address as I won’t be seeing those.