Here is what happens when you find out you won your category in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.
It is May 6, 2013. You get a call from a zip code you don’t recognize. The voice on the other end identifies itself, asks if you’re driving. (You’re not, in fact, you never got your license.) The kind woman also asks if you’re sitting down. (Yes, you’re sitting on your couch.) You are told gently that you are the winner in the Romance category of ABNA 2013; this means that your book will be published. You are still in the running for the grand prize, but your book is definitely being published. You swear with delight, then apologize for swearing. You pace around your house, laughing and shaking, talking to your cats.
You can’t tell anyone but your immediate family. For two weeks.
Things start to happen really quickly. It’s best that they don’t give you time to think. You have access to resources you could have only dreamed about a week before. If you’re me, you have trouble digesting that you just achieved one of your biggest dreams.
As things are happening, it becomes more and more difficult to not talk about it. You dance around the subject, you deal in half-truth, you laugh anxiously about how nervous you are when anyone asks you. You feel like you’re lying, but you’re not, you don’t have any choice. If anyone found out, you’d be disqualified and every exciting thing that you worked so hard for would disappear in a flash.
You look at the cover of your book, which suddenly exists, and you can’t tell anybody. You cry.
The closer the date gets, the guiltier you feel, having to keep the news from people who have supported you all through the writing of your book. There’s a new feeling, too: at first, it seemed like it was forever, then it seemed like too soon.
I’m writing this blog two days before the announcement, to be posted on the day. And I feel scared. A lot of ‘what if’s in my life have turned into ‘this is happening right now.’
So, if I get scared, I try to focus on being grateful instead. I need to say that I am ridiculously, out-sized blessed with an amazing birth family and the very best friends a girl could hope for—this is not hyperbole. I am thankful to the point of being embarrassed every single day. The acknowledgement pages in my book will be teary and hand-wringing.
As far as the publication of A Man Above Reproach, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge three people right now.
My husband, Stephen Foland, who never asks me to close the laptop and be a normal person, who is my counsel and my constant, who did not blink an eye when I told him I was going to start writing historical romance. You don’t get even half of the praise you deserve for being the man that you are. I love you and I like you.
Jocelyn Hillen, my best friend for each crazy bit of our lives, who told stories with me when we were teens and to this very day, a first reader of the top tier. You help me find my way through my writing; you are my second pair of eyes. I am so sorry I couldn’t tell you all this time—it honestly killed me. I love you; forgive me.
Amy Loveridge, I can’t overestimate your impact in everything you touch. Your amazing advice and your lucid edits guided me to the draft I submitted to the contest (following a direct order from you to do so). Your friendship, and the unadulterated encouragement that comes with it, is an enormous gift.
Now that I’ve gone sappy, here’s the link for the finals voting: http://www.amazon.com/Breakthrough-Novel-Award-Books/b?ie=UTF8&node=332264011. But really—I kind of feel like I couldn’t ask for anything more.