Is the fact that Eyewall has moved into the second round of judging for the Best First Novel competition in the International Thrillers Writers organization a big deal? I don’t know. Remember, I’ve been a published novelist for less than a year. I’m a rookie in the business. This is all new to me. So I really have to rely on the insights of others.

But first, what is the International Thriller Writers? It’s an honorary society of authors who write books broadly classified as “thrillers”–murder mystery, espionage, suspense, etc. ITW has almost 1400 members from 22 countries. Some members, if you’re an avid thriller reader, have instantly recognizable names: James Patterson, Ken Follett and Clive Cussler, just to name a few. Then there are guys like me: Buzz Who?

So Eyewall has made the first cut in the annual debut novel contest. Should I be ho-hum about this? Maybe not. In the words of Pat Van Wie, the Belle Books editor of my second thriller: “WOW!!!   This is ‘mega’ good news.  You’re playing with the big boys….”

But we’re both on the same team. How does someone who is outside our band of merry men (and women, mostly) view the selection? Here’s what Liz Wolfe, the Awards Coordinator at ITW says: “20 books out of each category move on to the second round.  I’m not sure I can tell you how many books were entered in the First Novel category but I can assure you the competition was substantial.  It’s quite an accomplishment!”

Okay, now my head is starting to swell. But I can always count on my wife to let the gas out of the Hindenburg. “Hey,” I tell her, “guess what? Eyewall made it to the second round in the Best First Novel competition at International Thrillers Writers!”

“That’s nice,” she says. “Don’t forget to take the dog for a walk.”

So what happens next (after I take the dog out)? Five finalists in the Best First Novel category will be selected. The winner will be announced at ITW’s annual ThrillerFest in New York City in mid-July.

So here’s how I view things–permit me to use a baseball analogy. Making it to the second round of the ITW competition is like being invited to spring training with a major league baseball club. If I make it to the Final Five, then I’ve made the team! I get to take the field in Yankee Stadium or Turner Field.

But you know what? I’ve got an awful lot of dog walking to do between now and then.

-January 27, 2012-

IMAGE: My wife, Chris, and me at Eyewall’s launch party.

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