(Originally posted on the Writer's Vineyard)
Getting my first book published last year was literally a dream come true. There wasn't a day since I was 12 that I didn't wish for it. When it finally happened I didn't think there was anything that could top it; I had what I wanted most in the world, so what was left to ask for? When I was notified earlier this year that Champagne Books had nominated it for Novel of the Year for 2010, I actually had a moment of feeling guilty, like I'd taken advantage of the universe. That faded fast -- such things do -- and instead I relished the honor of being nominated. And like all nominees say, I told myself that being nominated would be enough.
At the beginning of our Awards Ceremony via instant chat on Coffeetime Romance, I misread the first category. If you've never attended a live chat, it is pure chaos; we had 10 or 15 people all typing at the same time, and the information flies by like bullets. It's really no wonder I thought the first award was for Novel of the Year; somehow I'd missed it was Best-Selling Novel of the Year. While I was genuinely happy for Nan Arnold, whose novel Pesto Packin' Mama sold the most copies for 2010 (also nominated for Novel of the Year which only added to my confusion), I realized what a bunch of horseshit all of that "I'm just happy to be nominated!" is. I was surprised at how disappointed I felt. Almost in the same breath, I found instant relief in knowing I was among good company: TK Toppin, Ciara Gold, Michael Davis, and KM Tolan are all fantastic storytellers not to mention wonderful friends, and I thought, well, at least we can all commiserate together. I was already planning my post-losing email to TK -- hey, let's get drunk together, my friend! Who needs that award anyway? I then went on to make a fool out of myself by joking about not winning; my fellow attendees must have thought, geez, lady, you want to win everything??
Needless to say, I was pretty astonished when I discovered my category was still coming up -- saved for last. Excited and then wary -- I faced the distinct possibility of losing (in my mind, anyway) twice. But I didn't. I was hoping to win, obviously, but I really didn't think I would. Shadow Fox is pretty dark with a lot of edginess. And I had read some of the competition and didn't think I really stood a chance. So it was truly shocking -- and delightful -- when I realized I had won. And while that was a spectacular feeling, I also felt terrible that I'd let down my fellow nominees. After all, I'd had several minutes in which I wallowed in misery with them, and even though it was only my own perception (and dumb mistake), I still felt like I had played a trick on them. Psych! I'm actually going to abandon you and accept this lovely trophy (which just arrived in the mail yesterday) and plaster pictures of it all over Facebook. And, essentially, I did exactly that.
So while I'm flaunting my award, which I will not give back for the world, I also want to tell TK, Ciara, Big Mike and Kerry that I won't take this award for granted, and that I was truly honored to be in their company. (Nan, you too, of course, but you sold a buttload of copies so I know you'll be fine!) We always support each other and cheer each other on, but we've never really had to compete before (at least I haven't). It sounds like a trite, insincere cliche for me to say I wish I could share it with all of you, but I really wish I could. Especially since I'm the new upstart on the block and you guys have shown me the ropes. You can all say you didn't need to win, that's okay, I deserved it, blah, blah, blah -- but I thought I lost for a while, remember? I expected to say, oh, well, I didn't win. Instead I said, "Oh f***. I didn't win." So you can't fool me.
To the Higher Powers at Champagne: I am deeply honored. I shall try to make you all proud. Again, I feel like I'm taunting God or the universe or what you will -- in September I'll have three books published, I've been taken in by a new family, and I just won this incredible reward. Surely that's enough! Right?
I won't mention that Shadow Fox's two sequels have release dates in 2011. *ducks behind shield to avoid rotten vegetables* That would never even cross my mind.