Autocorrect keeps trying to change the title of this blog to “Sammy Finalist.” Autocorrect can’t believe it either. Autocorrect is like, “no she can’t be be serious.” Never mind that “Sammy finalist” isn’t even a thing* the idea of me being a Sammy finalist seems more reasonable than a Lammy finalist and yet, everyone keeps congratulating me on being a finalist for the this year’s Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Romance.
At first I thought it was a mistake. I saw a message from my friend and fellow GCLSer Carleen Spry and I thought I’d read it wrong. It was early, and usually Carleen emails me to remind me to do something I’ve forgotten. I figured she was just messaging me to remind me I still hadn’t made my hotel reservations for the conference this year. But then other people started to congratulate me too, and some of them sent links like this one. And I’ll be damned if Heart of the Game wasn’t on the list. Even after I refreshed the page and then checked on my phone to make sure it wasn’t just a computer malfunction.
Finally I went up stairs and watched Susie brush her teeth for a minute until she finally rinsed, spit, and said, “What?”
I said, “I’m a Lammy finalist.” No real inflection, just a statement of fact. She once again asked, “What?” I think the initial statement seemed a little silly to her too, but after I repeated myself she did the appropriate hugging and congratulating before we both went back about our business of getting the kid fed and dressed and off to school.
Lots of wonderful friends and colleague called, messaged, or Facebooked me to offer their congratulations. Georgia Beers encouraged me to dance. Melissa Brayden suggested waffles might be in order. I stopped by to hug my editor, Lynda Sandoval for all the awesome work she put in with me on this one. I congratulated all the other fantastic finalists (Shelley Thrasher, Andrea Bramhall, Dillon Watson, Jackie D, Julie Blair, Blythe H. Warren and Amy Dunne). Bold Stroke Books ran a one day flash sale on Heart of the Game and their other finalist. It was a good morning.
And then it was afternoon. And then it was time to get back to work. I spent several hours to get my 1,000 words on the day. Well at least now I can say getting shortlisted for writing awards doesn’t make actually writing any easier. Not that I expect it to.
Honestly, I didn’t expect anything. I’d never given much thought to what being a finalist for one of the top awards in my field would be like. I’ve watched my friends go through the experience. I’ve been happy for them. I’ve seen the trappings, the extra line on the resumes, the trophies on mantles (do you call it a trophy?) the new title in the author bio. But I never really thought about what it would feel like. Now that I’ve had the experience I can say, at least for me, being a Lammy finalist is fun, but it doesn’t really change anything.
I’ve never thought about awards while writing. It’s not that I don’t think my work is good, or that I’m not proud of it. I am. I’m insanely proud of Heart of The Game. I wrote it because I love baseball, and lesbians, and love. So maybe I do think about awards, but in a different sense because I always saw the book as the award, or certainly as the reward. I got to hold the finished product in my hand, pass it out to all my friends, and hear back from readers who really like baseball, and lesbians, and love as much as I do.
I’m not going to lie and say I don’t enjoy being a Lammy finalist, or that I wouldn’t enjoy winning. It’s a huge honor, but I am happy to report that even from this side of the fence those sorts of things are not the end game. Not for me. Several days after the big announcement, I’m still plugging along on the early stages of my next project, because that’s what I do. I love what I do, and that’s the best reward ever.
*Actually “Sammy finalist” is a thing. I googled it. Apparently is an award for sports marketing?