Saturday, September 22, 2007

Crime That Pays

Help write our new mini-novel

Elizabeth Withey
The Edmonton Journal

Saturday, September 22, 2007

EDMONTON - We're writing a serialized novel, and we'd be thrilled if you could help us.

The Journal's Saturday Serial Thriller, a 10-part mini-novel, starts today in the Culture section, and we need Journal readers to complete it.

You don't have to be a professional writer. You don't have to be an English major, or a bookworm, and you don't have to write it hunched over a typewriter while smoking cigarettes.

All you need to do is read what's been published so far, write the next chapter, with between 750 and 1,000 words, and submit it to us.

Edmonton author Thomas Wharton has penned chapter one -- a riveting opener about a bloody murder aboard the Edmonton Queen on the North Saskatchewan. Read it on page C1.

The author of each of the next eight chapters that we publish will receive $500. You can win up to two times, but you can't have two chapters published in a row.

Each winner will be invited to a dinner with Wharton and the judges once the thriller is finished.

Wharton, 44, teaches English and creative writing at the University of Alberta and is no stranger to fiction.

His 2004 collection of short stories about reading, The Logogryph, was shortlisted for the IMPAC-Dublin Prize, the world's richest prize for a single work of fiction.

He has also written two novels: Salamander (2001), shortlisted for both the Governor General's Literary Award and the Roger's Fiction Prize, and Icefields (1995), which won a regional Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best First Book. His first book in a children's fantasy trilogy, Perilous Realms, will be published by Doubleday in 2008.

The author will be back with the final chapter of the Saturday Serial Thriller on Nov. 24.

In between? Well, that's entirely up to you.

Each week, The Journal will pick the best chapter submission and publish it. Details on how to submit an entry appear in today's paper on C2, and full contest rules are on our website,

The Journal wanted to do this contest because we know our readers are creative people who like to get involved.

In 2006, a similar project by the Vancouver Province got an outstanding response from the public-- more than 1,300 chapter submissions during its 12-part run.

"We were thrilled with how enthusiastic our readers were about the serial thriller," Province deputy editor Ros Guggi said. "It was a lot of fun and a wild ride. You never knew where the next chapter would take you."

Preliminary judging happens in the Journal newsroom, and final judging will be done by a four-member panel that includes Wharton, Journal books editor Richard Helm, Audreys co-owner Steve Budnarchuk, and Laurie Greenwood, owner of Laurie Greenwood's Volume II Books.

"It's a great idea to involve the public in a literary event," said Greenwood. "There are a lot of aspiring writers here and the chance to work with Thomas Wharton is really neat."

The book-store owner said it's a good opportunity for writers to have their work published in a major daily newspaper, and she hopes young people will give it a try (the contest is open to those 16 or older). But as to where the story might go, Greenwood did not dare hazard a guess.

"Goodness, who knows," she said. "I'm looking forward to its twists and turns."

For more details and full contest rules, see today's Culture section or go to Current Features at

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